WWDC: Apple's call to code and the no-code future

What’s a giant US corporation to do when there really aren’t enough developers on the planet to build all the things we need?

Apple, developers, WWDC, Mac, iPhone, iOS, swift, no code

When there aren’t enough developers to go around, what can a company like Apple do to try and fix the problem? Two things, really – invest in global education in coding skills, and make its existing environments easier to use.

Apple won’t have a no-code future

WWDC 2022, announced this week and set to take place June 6-10, declares a ‘Call to code,” rather than a call to no code. Apple won’t have a no-code future, but must continue to build developer environments to empower people without much coding knowledge to build increasingly complex apps.

There are solid economic reasons to do so. With every enterprise now a digital enterprise, demand for coding talent is growing exponentially (demand doubled in 2021), so good developers command fees small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) can’t afford. Big-tech firms, including Apple, have the luxury of building development hubs around the world as they seek the best and the brightest developers. SMBs don’t have this advantage.

That shortage of skills is driving many companies to seek alternative ways to get projects done. Apple reads the same surveys we do, so it will know of recent Gartner research claiming 70% of new applications developed by organizations will use low-code or no-code technologies by 2025. It may also have read a Mendix survey that claimed 77% of enterprises already make use of low code where they can.

They do this to reduce the need for expensive development teams, to accelerate company response to change, and to accelerate application delivery. No-code solutions are also cheaper to maintain.

The result? Good results, faster — and at lower risk.

Accessibility is key

The need to make code development more accessible is growing. This is prompting companies, including Apple, to invest in coding education (such as Swift Playgrounds, Learn to Code, Hacking with Swift, Everyone can Code events, to name a few).

It also means Apple continues working to reduce the barrier to using development tools. This, in part, is what Swift UI (now at version 3.0) aspires to, as does Swift Playgrounds, which teaches coding skills.

Apple alludes to progress toward a low (if not no) code future, saying SwiftUI, “helps you build great-looking apps across all Apple platforms with the power of Swift — and as little code as possible.”

The democratization of code?

Apple’s Shortcuts app demonstrates a similar approach to bespoke, democratized solutions development. There is also its little-known no-code AI platform, Trinity. All of these manifest the company recognizes the need to democratize code.

Business users already see this. Fiverr’s recently-published Spring 2022 Small Business Needs Index confirms a 204% increase in searches for solutions such as .bubble by US SMBs as they seek growth. 

Enterprise users understand that to truly realize the benefits of digital in their business, the barriers to building applications must lower — and the best way to achieve this is to continue to make it possible to build apps with as little code as possible.

So, what will Apple’s approach to this emerging need turn out to be? While some expect the focus will be on AR, we will probably see movement toward further democratization of code for all at WWDC 2022, which takes place online this year. 

Apple’s decision to give the event the tagline, ‘Call to code,’ suggests moves to empower more of the rest of us to build their own code.

It also sounds like a plausible introduction point for Swift 6.0, with enhancements across Apple’s other development environments, including Xcode/Swift UI likely to accompany it. And who outside Cupertino knows the extent to which Apple will enhance the app development capabilities of the iPad?

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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