Malaysian developers answer the question: why iOS?

What keeps app creators excited about iOS? We find out

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is back and as always, there is the fever of anticipation. What will Apple announce next? There’s no denying that hardware announcements generate the most excitement but what is hardware without software? WWDC is the biggest gathering of Apple software developers in the world and we talked to two Malaysian WWDC attendees to get their take on iOS development and the future of wearables.

Obsession becomes vocation

Apptivity Labs’ Jason Khong isn’t shy about his passion for the iPhone. After watching the long ago WWDC announcement where Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, Khong said: “I knew I needed an iPhone right then.”

While he used learning to code for the phone as an excuse to special order an iPhone from the US, it became, for him a “life-changing decision”.

Khong could be called an iOS veteran of sorts, learning to code for the iPhone when the phone’s software platform was called iPhoneOS, not iOS. He was among many of the early adopters who learned to create mobile apps that ran natively on the phone, where before it would only support third-party Web apps.

Now Apptivity Labs creates mobile solutions that work not just on iPhones but on Android as well. Whether it’s front-end web apps for browsers or backend APIs on scalable cloud services, Apptivity is more than just an iOS outfit.

Yet while the firm needs to master all platforms, iOS remains Apptivity’s flagship platform for mobility projects.

“It allows us to push the limits of technology, while crafting user experiences that people can embrace instantly,” says Khong. He says that iOS is a simpler platform to work on for delivering a polished flagship.

As far as promoting iOS development locally, Khong doesn’t think that promotion is needed per se. “We definitely need to provide avenues for people who are already interested to be able to learn, to grow in their journey whether in startups or joining tech companies.

Where Malaysian potential is concerned, Khong said he has seen “tremendous” interest from both local startups as well as international and regional players in Malaysian ideas.

His advice for budding iOS enthusiasts: “Go for it, and let’s do it together!” Khong says that newbies should not only avail themselves of the great resources online, but try to connect with the local iOS developers’ scene.

“A lot of us learnt from each other especially in the early days, and we’re a lot more open to sharing our experiences than you might think,” Khong said, and he encouraged newbies with great ideas to consider partnering with established developers instead of just trying to teach themselves to code to bring those ideas to life.

The sky’s the limit

Another local developer who has seen a lot of success with iOs is MindValley. Its app Omvana has not only broken into the App Store’s Top 10 list, but has gone on to achieve success on Android as well as on a Web platform.

Mindvalley’s Kshitij Minglani said that Mindvalley has worked with various aspects of iOS development – leveraging on Xcode 8, the SiriKit and Today extensions as well as worked to create apps that worked well with watchOS and Apple’s Healthkit.

Minglani said Mindvalley was one of the early pioneers to take advantage of HealthKit’s potential when Apple first announced it. From Omvana, Mindvalley has moved on to bigger projects such as Mindvalley Quests.(Explain Mindvalley Quests)

“We are fundamentally driven by a few things. The forefront of it being creating genuine value for our users,” Minglani said. He also said that Mindvalley also believed that via simple, functional design, they would be able to better deliver knowledge to users.

With Healthkit, Mindvalley can create apps that leverage on health data captured – among others, heart rate, blood pressure, diet and water – to help gauge whether Mindvalley’s courses have had impacto n users.

On WatchOS, Minglaini said,” It has imbued us with key insights on interactive notifications, collecting vital stats and turning simple interatctions into behavioural, activity-based actions.”

Minglani sees the wearable industry as being right on the cusp of being essential parts of a person’s life. “Ultimately, wearables would revolve around data: the collection of it, and the timely output around it. He gave the medical industry as an example, how wearables have played multiple funcitons – from tracking infants to collecting data for curious health conscious users. “We think the wearable space has just started.”

Software, exciting?

With the upcoming updates to not just iOS, Mac and Watch OS, we expect developers to find more to love about the Apple development platform. Stay tuned as we give you live updates for Apple's biggest event (at least until the iPhone launch) so far.