Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference went digital this year and revealed many new features and updates to its product lineup.
Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was held June 22-26 with one big change. Rather than being hosted in its usual San Jose location, the five-day conference occurred entirely online, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The new all-digital format increased the typical number of 5,000 developer attendees to millions.
WWDC 2020 showcased the latest advances across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and more. In addition, the conference featured a keynote by Apple CEO Tim Cook and the developer-focused Platforms State of the Union, as well as more than 100 engineering sessions, developer forums, and one-on-one developer labs by appointment.
The biggest draw of WWDC 2020 were the announcements. Here are just a few highlights.
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Apple Silicon Chip Cook announced the highly anticipated Apple Silicon chip, indicating that macOS is starting to look a lot like iPad OS and iOS. The Arm-based Mac chips will help maximize performance and battery life, creating a common architecture across all Apple devices. This will also make it easier for developers to bring services and apps to Gadgets.
All Apple apps are already configured for the new chips, and developers can already make their own projects compatible in Xcode.
watchOS 7 will give Apple more of a footprint in healthcare–and handwashing hygiene. Yes, handwashing. Other new features include watch face sharing, sleep tracking, and a hearing health feature. There’s also additional workout types such as dance, and Maps is being updated with cycling directions and language translation through Siri.
All of these features will be available this fall when the watchOS 7 rollout is offered to Apple Watch users.
iOS 14 updates Apple rolled out its updates to iOS 14, and new features were designed with organization in mind. iOS 14 updates include easier ways to organize apps, add widgets, and create “smart stacks” based on the time of day.
New additions include Picture-in-Picture (PIP) video mode for iPhone; App Clips, which act as smaller independent components of apps andwill allow users to try out portions of an app before deciding to download the full version; and features for cyclists and owners of electric vehicles.
iPadOS 14 Apple also revealed the next major software update for its iPad lineup, iPadOS 14. Among the new features in iPadOS 14 is a new-look for widgets in the iPad’s Today View. In addition to its makeover, the widgets will be more interactive. For example, you’ll be able to place Apple’s Calendar widget anywhere on the home screen to view your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule.
New privacy and security features Apple announced features that will make it much harder for online advertisers to track users. The most important of the changes are the new app privacy disclosure prompts. According to Apple, this new UI system will very visibly let users know what type of data each app collects about them. In addition, each app will now also have to disclose precisely each data type they use to track users across the web.
Just days after unveiling the 2021 Ford F-150, the motor company has even more news left in the tank featuring a new partnership to power SYNC 4.
Many of us rely on real-time mapping systems as part of our daily drive. These location technologies can provide helpful alerts to reduce commute times, bypass the rush-hour bottlenecks, and reduce our carbon footprint. A new deal between Ford and the location technology company, TomTom, looks to take the daily commute to the next gear. Just days after Ford debuted the 2021 Ford F-150, loaded with plenty of advanced features, the motor vehicle company revealed a key partnership.
Thursday, Ford announced that it had awarded TomTom a global, multiyear deal to build its next-generation traffic system. TomTom Traffic provides traffic data allowing drivers to better understand their commute and deviate accordingly in the event of heavy traffic or accidents. The latest system provides even more helpful information with predictive analytics via SYNC, the Bluetooth-enabled system that allows the information to flow between a smartphone and the vehicle.
The latest SYNC technologies can deliver “twice the computing power of the previous-generation system,” according to Stuart Taylor, executive director of Ford’s Enterprise Connectivity. The traffic platform is able to forecast traffic in advance by leveraging millions of daily driving hours logged by connected devices. The SYNC system’s enhanced computing power is then leveraged to provide navigational updates to the system every 30 seconds.
“Automakers choose TomTom Traffic for its accuracy, freshness and reliability,” said Antoine Saucier, managing director, TomTom Automotive, in a press release. “Ford’s decision to include TomTom Traffic in its new SYNC connected vehicle technology is another step towards our vision of a world free of congestion.”
Ford’s newly unveiled 2021 F-150 pickup and the Mustang Mach-E SUV will be the first two vehicles to receive the advanced technology system. The latest SYNC 4 will be standard on all new F-150 available later this fall. Advanced voice processing will allow SYNC 4 to understand and respond to more conversational requests many of us use to communicate with our digital assistants. The Mustang Mach-E will debut the SYNC 4A. This particular system utilized machine learning to understand the personal preferences of drivers.
“The all-new F-150 is Ford’s flagship and the Mustang Mach-E is one of the industry’s most exciting vehicles this year – both are leading the next automotive revolution of connected vehicles,” Taylor said.
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The company created some IoT options for companies to ensure safe workspaces for companies and employees.
Ready or not, there have been more than rumblings about offices reopening after a three-month shutter in an effort to combat the worldwide threat of COVID-19. Lenovo announced Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for businesses which will have to address the inherent challenges in keeping a safe and hygienic workplace.
The solutions are the first from Lenovo’s Commercial Internet of Things Business Group, which was established in 2019. The initial solution to solve: Employees believe it’s the company’s responsibility to deploy technological safety measures within the workplace.
Lenovo developed ThinkIoT Solutions to support the transitional steps centered around key workplace actions as businesses return to offices, including: Touchless building access, elevated temperature screening, digital signage and policy communication, safe workplace monitoring, and on-premise contact tracing.
Lenovo said the system will ensure employers will have the right technology to be able to welcome employees back and hopefully won’t need to endure issues often associated with IoT projects.
As part of the application of Lenovo’s ThinkIoT initiative, the company compiled promises for its worldwide clients: Validation, deployment, end-to-end management, single-point accountability, minimal site disruption, and testing each solution before submitting.
Having these elements in play will make the transitional return easier for big companies with several locations, Lenovo said.
Employees weigh in
A Lenovo June 8, 2020, survey showed:
58% of respondents in the US said their jobs went remote because of COVID-19
88% of respondents in the US said it’s important companies use tech-based safety measures in the workplaces before they go back to work.
Lenovo set a company-wide standard to offer clients, what it refers to as a three-step tech-based framework for safe spaces and assistance in accelerating the new normal. Lenovo tells its customers it will control who is allowed into the business space, manage the response and behavior in the office, and be available, on alert, and prepared to respond to queries and incidents.
ThinkIoT Back to Work Solutions partnered with several hardware and software companies to develop safe technology solutions, including CXApp, Ipixon, L Squared, Openpath, Relogix and Viper Imaging.
These solutions–which can be ordered in any combination–are now available through Lenovo sales channels in select regions.
Touchless building access: In addition to touchless access, there is phone-based authentication, cloud management, as well as integration systems and IoT solutions. (Openpath)
Elevated temperature screening: FDA-cleared thermal cameras (with thermal screening solutions) to take body temperatures as people pass through access points.(Viper Imaging)
Digital signage and policy communication: Company policies and information are distributed to staff using integrated digital communication and a content management solution. (L Squared)
Safe workspace monitoring: Monitoring social distancing protocols as well as identifying how to use and clean workspaces. (Relogix)
On-premise contact tracing: With the existing Wi-Fi, employees and visitors are monitored through tracing, to keep track of zone health and a quick response in case of an incident. (Inpixon)
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Salesforce announces developer productivity tools built for coders working remotely
Length: 13: 32 | Jun 24, 2020
Ryan Schellack, Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce, talks with TechRepublic’s Bill Detwiler about a new set of developer productivity tools Salesforce announced in the run up to its TrailheaDX 2020 virtual event.
A new set of developer productivity tools from Salesforce is designed to help coders working remotely build applications more quickly and at scale.
On Tuesday, June 23, Salesforce announced a new suite of developer productivity tools designed particularly for coders who are working remotely — Code Builder, Salesforce Functions and DevOps Center. In the run up to the company’s TrailheaDX 2020 virtual event, I had a chance to speak with Ryan Schellack, Product Marketing Manager at Salesforce, about the new tools, how they can help developers streamline the app building process and when they will be available. The following is an edited transcript of the interview. You can listed to the interview on TechRepublic’s Dynamic Developer podcast.
Bill Detwiler: Ryan, thanks for joining us.
Ryan Schellack: Hey, Bill, thanks for joining. Thank you.
Bill Detwiler: All right. Thanks. Let’s start with the rundown of what the new tools are.
Ryan Schellack: Yeah, absolutely. So, Bill, we’ve obviously been working, just as everyone else has been, in a very interesting, fast-changing landscape. And something that we’ve been focused on actually for a while now, pre-pandemic and certainly now with this changing focus and scenario, is how to make people who build on the Salesforce platform more productive, more effective than ever before. And something that we want to think about is people are distributed now. I’m talking to you not from the floor of TrailheaDX in person, usually we’d be talking in San Francisco right about now, but instead we’re communicating over Zoom. That’s the standard for everyone.
So we’re introducing new developer productivity tools that are more relevant than ever for people that are needing to build and collaborate from anywhere. We’ve got three capabilities that we’re talking about now. The first is Code Builder. This is a brand new, web-based development environment that is optimized for Salesforce and actually powered by a partner. It’s powered by Microsoft’s Visual Studio Codespaces tool. We’ve worked with Microsoft to reimagine developer tooling for Salesforce, where we’ve been investing for years now on the desktop, now for the web. So people can build in their browser, which empowers them to build from anywhere, and to do so in a more collaborative fashion.
Something like 80% of Salesforce developers prefer to, or must due to IT regulations of their company, build with web tools. And so rather than build something bespoke, we’ve listened to our community. They love building on VS Code, which is Microsoft’s open source code of the dirt. They love the extensions we’ve built there, they’ve just expressed the desire to be able to use it from their browser. So Code Builder is designed to do that on top of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Codespaces.
So what we’re doing here is we’re providing people the ability to deploy a full-featured, fully-configured IDE right from their Salesforce at work. It runs in a cloud-hosted environment, you can access it from any browser, and that means that you can access anything that we’ve built over the past few years at Salesforce in terms of developer tooling, the CLI, those extensions I mentioned for VS Code, anything really we’ve innovated on right from your browser. It’s going to dramatically lower the barrier to entry for people that are developing on the platform because they don’t have to download software, install anything, configure it. They basically push a button and get a fully-feature development environment.
That also means that some of our low-code developers or people that are more declarative in terms of how they build, they’ll now have access to modern tooling right from their browser. They don’t need to worry about the scaries involved in configuring a typical desktop environment. That means everybody’s going to have access to more modern tooling, they’re going to be able to access it from wherever they go, and that’s going to make them more productive.
So that’s the first big thing that we’re announcing here. The other one is Salesforce Functions. This is a new way to build apps on Salesforce in a serverless, scalable way. We know that a lot of our developers have expressed a desire to tap into some of the benefits of Functions as a service. They’ve seen some of the vendors in public cloud do this, they’ve wanted to do it. And what we’re trying to provide here is more than just another serverless product, we’re delivering serverless agility with the Salesforce context. And so what that means is that you’re going to be able as a developer to write code, write some custom business logic, using languages that you might already be familiar with such as Apex, if you built on Salesforce, but also other languages such as Node.js and Java, and all of the open source libraries associated with them and build for Salesforce.
So you’re going to be able to write that code, and that code will deploy in response to events and data from Salesforce. You, as a developer, manage nothing else except your code. You don’t need to provision any infrastructure. You don’t need to manage any additional technology or overhead. You just write code, you give it to Salesforce, and Salesforce will run that code elastically on demand. That’s great because especially today, we’re in a very unpredictable circumstance, apps can be very dynamic, and capacity planning is another requirement that slows you down as a developer or a team from releasing new products and services.
So with Functions, you just focus as a developer on custom code, and your peers in the business, the business users, declared developers, admins, they can even invoke those functions via low-code tools that everybody knows and loves like Lightning Flow. They just go through a flow, they capture that function, they invoke whatever custom logic is in that function.
As a developer, I write the function for everyone. It can be reused, it can be used in multiple contexts. As a business user, I don’t need to care too much about the underlying custom code, I just benefit from that elastic scalability and that on-demand business logic to do something interesting, like create maybe a new PDF out of thin air. I don’t need to have someone build that PDF generation logic in Salesforce from scratch, if you will, I might have just one of my developers pull an open source library that someone else already built. And that means we can deliver a new service for our customers or employees even faster.
And speaking of delivering things faster, this third thing that we’re really excited about is DevOps Center. And so, DevOps, that’s been something that has been critical to our community for a while now. We’ve introduced a lot of capabilities over the past few years through what we call Salesforce DX, programmatic platform development tools for developers, but we know that a lot of admins, a lot of people who identify as Salesforce product managers, maybe they work in a Salesforce Center of Excellence at a company. They want to be involved in the release management cycle as well, and they want to use modern DevOps tools.
DevOps Center lowers the barrier to entry for them. Kind of like Code Builder, it’s making it easier for people that don’t necessarily identify as programmatic developers to leverage modern technology and capabilities to release and govern apps in a better way. So this means that you’ll be able to track changes across your orgs in a streamlined UI. You’ll have a new work object that you can use to kind of pin your changes against and collaborate with your team, so that you’re releasing your changes in a way that takes in user input, takes in feedback. And you’re going to be able to build more effectively than ever against source control.
So that’s like code and metadata in a repo like GitHub. Historically, you’ve kind of had to be a developer to take advantage of those really amazing technologies for collaboration and versioning. Now, it’s really easy. This DevOps Center provides that necessary abstraction layer, so now everybody can benefit from CI/CD modern automation practices that you see in DevOps, but without necessarily having to become a programmatic developer or be too familiar with those. So for developers, admins, everyone involved, this’ll mean faster releases and releases of higher quality.
Those are the three things that we’re delivering here that we think are going to be really impactful for developers, especially today in the current situation that we’re all working in.
Bill Detwiler: A lot of changes, updates were made to Lightning last year. I remember that was one of the things that we were talking about at TrailheaDX last year, and at Dreamforce. How do the new tools fit within the larger Lightning platform?
Ryan Schellack: Yeah, so these are all very much seamless with Lightning platform, and seamless with the changes that we’ve made over the past couple of years. I think last year when we talked, we were talking about open sourcing the Lightning Web Components’ programming model. Since then, we’ve done more open sourcing around our base components. Things like functions, for example, can be called, they can be invoked, not only from those declarative tools I mentioned like Flow, but from your Lightning Web Components.
So we keep thinking, how do we create more extensibility and a more seamless interaction of components across our entire set of developer capabilities? And so, that’s one example where you see that. Another example is that in terms of developing things like Lightning Web Components and developing for Lightening in general, in the past, the developer tools that we’ve had out of the box, for example, the Developer Console, which many developers know in Salesforce, they actually haven’t been equipped to build Lightning Web Components. You’ve had to use desktop tooling.
Code Builder allows you to use a web-based tool, but build modern Salesforce technologies like your Lightning Web Components or your Salesforce functions. So unifying the tool kit that you had for building on Salesforce and putting in the browser, that’s another part where you see the pieces of Lightning platform coming together. And then DevOps Center, of course, that’s an experience that you have within Lightning, so it’s using the Lightning user interface as a means to centralize artifact tracking and tracking of changes. For not just one org, but multiple orgs, so that everybody can have an eye on new feature requests, changes, whether they be for something that’s going to face a customer, such as a new community that you’re going to build with Lightning Community Builder, or it could be for something that’s an internal change, a new employee experience application.
All of these capabilities enrich the Lightening experience. They enrich the output that someone who builds on Lightning can deliver, but without them necessarily having to adopt a new way of building. We’re not making people go to another platform and then integrate in. All of these tools are natively integrated with Salesforce and with Lightning, and that means that you’ll be able to deploy them and adopt them much faster.
Bill Detwiler: In general, there’s always a tug between low code, no code, and building sophisticated tools that maybe developers need to write complex code when they need to do that. How does Salesforce balance that when looking at the new tools that it’s going to release? What’s your thinking about that in general going forward? What should we look for?
Ryan Schellack: Yeah, I think what you’ll start to see, Bill, is greater extensibility of low code to professional developer capabilities. In the past, this is a bit of a difference from how a lot of platforms, including Salesforce, have built in the past, which is they’ve tried to define these fine boxes, these clear boxes around where you as a developer can have access to tooling, et cetera. We think that our developer base is inclusive of low-code builders. We don’t think that they must have their own sort of boxed-in tooling. Instead, we think that low-code developers will see the capabilities that we’re building and immediately recognize value, and then be able to grasp that value.
For example, through these flows that you can now construct, which can develop or incorporate screens, which have Lightning Web Components fundamentally underpinning them, they can now reach out and through events, invoke functions. And as a low-code developer or a low-code builder, again, they don’t necessarily need to learn how to write a node function for any particular business reason, but they can better communicate to one of their peers who is a professional developer what they need and how the two of them can collaborate, and that collaboration process is much more seamless with more reusability.
And then especially for things like DevOps, DevOps is something where a lot of low-code users have communicated with us, “Let us in, we need to be involved in this. We know Salesforce, we know the org, but maybe we don’t know Travis or Jenkins or other CI/CD technology,” or they don’t really know GitHub that well. This makes it easier for them to participate, be a voice, be heard, and influence that release management process in a more impactful way. Not a way that works around the technology, but meets everyone where they are and helps connect them, so that no one as a professional developer is having to learn too much low code. If you’re low code, you don’t need to learn too much development capabilities.
In fact, with Code Builder, we’re going to introduce a SOQL Query Builder. All low-code builders need to build SOQL queries players at some point or another. We’ll let them do it from a modern user interface, but without having to really write any code. They’ll just use their clicks to actually build a full SOQL query, run it, test it, and then move it into their production org.
Release date and availability: Salesforce Code Builder, Salesforce Functions and DevOps Center
Bill Detwiler: Well, Ryan, it sounds really interesting. When do these official tools drop? When will they be available?
Ryan Schellack: Yeah, so I’ll go in order of the three of them. Code Builder is going to be announced at TDX in pilot, so we’re announcing it tomorrow I should say, on the 23rd. At TDX, we’ll be basically introducing it to the world in pilot. It will be a small, closed pilot. You can expect it to be an open beta later this fall, probably around Dreamforce time, and then early next year, it should be GA.
Salesforce Functions similarly is moving into a restricted pilot. Later this year around Dreamforce, same deal, we want it to be in a larger, more inclusive beta. And then early next year as well, that’ll be GA.
DevOps Center is on a slightly different release timeline. It’s another really interesting off-core innovation, so it’s something that we’re using a lot of new technologies to build, which means that probably late this summer, people will be able to get their hands on it in a developer preview instance. And then probably early next year, they’ll have a chance to get involved in a beta, and then shortly after that, it will be GA.
So a lot of these great things we’re announcing, developers will be able to get their hands on them very soon. We’ll have live demos for all of them at TDX, so definitely people should tune in. That’s our big developer gathering point of the year. And I think people will be really happy to see we’re not just talking about these things, but we’re showing them, and people can start to think about how they could use and benefit from them.
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Dell Technologies has a new line of gear built for gamers and desktop users.
On Tuesday, Dell unveiled a number of new laptops, keyboards, and monitors slated for release later this year.
Most of the hardware will be coming out by the end of June or in July and August. The Dell G7 17 comes out today and costs $1,429.99 while the G7 15 is the same price and comes out June 29. The Dell G5 Gaming desktop will be available on July 9 costing about $750. The Dell 27 Gaming Monitor will be on sale by the end of July for almost $600.
The Dell 27 Curved Gaming Monitor will arrive in stores on August 21 and start at a price of $279.99. The XPS Desktop is also slated to come in July, but the price has not been determined yet. The $129.99 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard will be available for purchase on August 4.
“Dell gaming machines are engineered with the specific, demanding needs of the gaming audience in mind. From the latest processors to powerful discrete graphics cards, they make every experience more intense and real–no matter what your level of gaming experience,” Dell wrote in a press statement.
In a fact sheet on the Alienware RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, it is described as being designed for responsive, immersive gaming while serving as an “all round gaming keyboard that blends function and immersiveness while still offering industry leading components in an iconic design.” The sheet adds that the keyboard incorporates Cherry MX keys in a “floating key architecture” that comes with anti-ghosting and on-board memory.
It has programmable keys and is designed for customization with height adjustment features, according to Dell’s fact sheet.
The Dell 27 Curved Gaming Monitor similarly provides an immersive experience thanks to a 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms Motion Picture Response Time. The monitor also has a 1500R curved screen that the company says can enhance your field of vision and reduces distortion, glare and reflection.
The non-curved version of the monitor comes with a 165Hz refresh rate and a true 1ms response time.
“The distinct and gaming-centric design offers both functional and aesthetic benefits for gamers, such as a three-sided ultra-thin bezel that creates expansive views, and uniquely-designed vents located in the back that enhance heat dispersal,” the Dell fact sheet said.
Dell is also releasing a gaming desktop and gaming laptop devices that come with a bevy of features designed to provide gamers with a top-of-the-line experience.
The Dell G5 Desktop Model 5000 comes with a 10th Gen Intel Core, i7 CPUs, VR-capable GPUs and up to 64GB DDR4 RAM. The Dell G7 15 Gaming Laptop Model 7500 comes with similar features like the 10th Gen Intel Core and NVIDIA GeForce discrete graphics.
“The Dell G Series computers are designed for entry-level to mainstream gamers, featuring the latest technology, including 10th Gen Intel Core processors, powerful NVIDIA GeForce discrete graphics, a range of storage and memory options, and thoughtfully designed thermal management systems,” the Dell fact sheet stated.
“Dell strives to help its customers interact with what matters most to them. Innovative technologies help gamers of all levels get more immersed in their games, become engrossed in video content, and more. Lags, delays and buffering become a thing of the past.”
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Apple announced a wide spectrum of new updates at its annual WWDC kickoff event. One of the more interesting announcements included Apple’s Universal Quick Start program.
Today, Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for the first time virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the years, Apple has used the event to unveil a vast spectrum of new products, updates, and features. Today was no different. There was plenty of speculation about product announcements leading up to the event, and we now have definitive answers and clearer insights into Apple’s vision for the future.
“From the beginning, the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing. Today we’re announcing our transition to Apple Silicon, making this a historic day for the Mac,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple Silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever. I’ve never been more excited about the future of the Mac.”
The Tim Cook announcement marks a momentous occasion for Apple moving forward. By creating a standard architecture traversing the spectrum of Apple products, the company believes the move will empower developers to more readily create and optimize apps across the ecosystem. To assist with the transition, Apple announced the Universal App Quick Start Program.
The program will provide developers with all of the resources, tools, support, and more required to construct, test, and optimize macOS Big Sur Universal apps. Overall, the program will give developers access to forums support, documentation as well as Xcode 12 and macOS Big Sur beta versions. Additionally, developers will have limited access to the Developer Transition Kit (DTK).
The program includes developer labs providing developers with guidance, best practices, and technical insights to enhance their final products. Private forums give users the opportunity to communicate with Apple experts and engineers and pose questions to enhance development. Documentation and video resources provide greater insights associated with Universal app development and testing. Developers can request to have technical support team members troubleshoot their code. Apple notes that the program includes three technical support incidents.
The company estimates the transition to Apple silicon products will take about two years with the first product containing these elements to ship before 2021. This Universal Quick Start program will enable developers to proactively design and test Universal apps prior to Apple making Apple Silicon Macs available to the public. Apple is now accepting applications online. Availability is limited and Apple notes that priority will be “given to applicants with an existing macOS application.”
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