Apple's New Tech and Mobile App Developers Pt 1: Swift and Metal
Here at PTE, we love new tech news. So any new news if interesting for us any time new technologies are released. At the WWDC today, Apple announced a few interesting technologies for games. Let's talk briefly about two of them that are very obviously aimed at games and apps.
Swift is their new language, which aims to make programming apps for Apple products easier, faster, and safer. The key phrase in that sentence being "programming apps for Apple." A couple of years ago, here at PTE, we switched to the Unity engine so that we can inherently build all our products for cross-platform usage. In these days, that is especially important; not only do people expect our apps to work for Android and Apple, but it's always a smart idea to keep the door open for Steam Machines, the various Android console boxes and their controllers, car apps, and the hugely popular VR devices. This is true at PTE for our internal games like the upcoming Puzzle Football (which is built to run cross-platform) and our client work as well. For clients, we always try our best to keep the door open for other platforms, in case their plans expand as the app finds success.
But the really exciting future (and present) of cross-platform development is, like I mentioned above, is that it's no longer a world of this phone OS vs. that phone OS, or that console vs this console. Apps run on just about everything, so we do our best to be ready to port to new platforms all the time. With the popularity and great 3rd party support of Unity, we can build an iPhone and iPad app for a client, and find a way to put it on an Ouya console if they see an opportunity. We've even had clients in the past who were committed to iPhone, but they received unexpected offers from other hardware makers to port their apps.
So over here, we see our future with Swift being that, it will be something we will use for any specific client jobs that are laser-focused on being Apple-only. It will surely be a stupendous offering for Apple-only products.
As for Metal, we see a lot of promise in this with tools like Unity. If those engines can utilize Metal, that will improve performance for everyone. Again, as with Swift, most developers like PTE want to bring the most efficient apps possible to our clients in a Cross-Platofrm manner. So obviously, even if third-party engines can use Metal, they can only utilize those advantages for Apple products.
One of the things we like most about Apple is that they have the strategy to lock in their products: they have a closed app store, they keep OSX for only their hardware, they make specific tech like Swift and Metal that are taylor-made to make their hardware run even better, etc. But App Developers like PTE have to use these in a way that also benefits the cross-platform needs of our clients and our internal creative teams. We expect to pick and choose technologies like Swift and Metal based on the specific needs of our projects. But that won't stop our developers from having some fun experimenting with these new toys...