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WWDC 2020 Platforms State of the Union Highlights

Here are some of the new features covered in today's Platforms State of the Union.

macOS 11 "Big Sur"

The Transition

  • ARM-optimized code is generated by Rosetta 2 without any changes or I/O slowdowns, but it's "transitional technology". The unspoken premise is that it'll be removed from future releases of macOS, and 64-bit x86 apps simply won't run.
  • Apple's hypervisor has been updated for ARM Macs to discourage the kernel extension requirement by VM tools.
  • They've been patching a ton of open-source projects to help move command-line tools and the like to ARM.

Unmodified iOS Apps on Mac

  • This feature will ship along with Macs with ARM processors, and be exclusive to those devices.
  • iOS apps get an auto-generated Menu Bar, and Settings bundles are used to generate a Preferences window.
  • macOS native share services and photo views are available by default as well.


  • App icon templates will be available for developers to match the rounded icon look-and-feel.
  • Custom content extensions for Notification Center are available to both Catalyst and AppKit developers.
  • New looks for sheets, custom Finder thumbnail icons
  • New toolbar functionality for distinguishing sections.
  • SF Symbols can now match text styles.
  • Apps can now define their own accent colors, and choose individual symbol tint colors.
  • The Mac idiom allows Catalyst apps to scale to native resolution.



  • Two-column to three-column sidebars made from a UICollectionView or SwiftUI List are available in both landscape and portrait orientation.
  • A new DatePicker style built on the calendar metaphor.
  • Text fields get an emoji picker for free.
  • A new color picker control.
  • Dropdown menus can replace action sheets, making the transition to Mac apps even easier.


  • Instantaneous and accurate virtual object placement with LiDAR-enabled iPads.
  • Scribble lets Pencil users handwrite into any text fields.
  • Multi tap and drag-to-select selects handwritten words and lines for manipulation in PencilKit apps.
  • A new PencilKit stroke API gives apps access to location, angle, and pressure data.

iOS 14

  • WidgetKit extensions provide timelines of SwiftUI views while the system uses their relevancy scores to choose what to display. Think of them as providing super smart watch complications for your homescreen. Users can customize widgets using a system-generated popover, as long as they implement IntentTimelineProvider.
  • App Clips have implicit ("ephermal" permission to push notifications within 10 hours after launch, and are built with a subset of the full project's code (up to a 10 MB limit). A StoreKit view can be used to prompt upgrades to the full app.
  • ARKit can now combine sensor data to map GPS data to points in a virtual world: > In this sample app, the user marks spots on a map or camera feed to create a collection of anchors they view in an AR experience. By rendering those anchors as virtual content in an AR view, the user can see a nearby anchor through the camera feed, move to its physical location, and continue to any subsequent anchors in the collection.

watchOS 7

  • Apps can offer multiple SwiftUI complications for each complication family, powered by the new CLKComplicationDescriptor object.
  • Xcode 12's live-updating complication previews feature lets you define example complications.

Dev Tools

Xcode 12

Speaking of Xcode 12, the beta also includes:

  • A powerful StoreKit testing framework. Manipulating IAP in the iOS simulator is super easy with a new menu available in "Debug > StoreKit...".
  • Greatly improved autocomplete and SwiftUI previews.
  • Some nifty UI testing improvements, including animation performance testing


  • Lazy stacks allow for fast scrolling while minimizing memory usage.
  • A new App protocol that enables the declaration of platform-specific features like toolbars and preferences that go beyond individual views.

What are you the most excited about?

Discussion (1)

jerielng profile image
Jeriel Ng

I think the ARM-based Macs are probably the coolest thing coming out of this year. Sad that it’s inevitably going to take a couple of years to really transition to its full potential. But I’m definitely interested in how App Clips will change how we use our mobile devices.