The Trulia iOS team looks forward to Apple’s WWDC each year about as much as most of the U.S. looks forward to the Super Bowl – we love it. A week-long conference where our team is fully immersed with amazing Apple engineers, colleagues and the larger development community, what more could we want?
We attend WWDC with the intent to uncover and explore new technologies, development approaches and tools. WWDC’17 was filled with significant announcements for every platform – from iOS to watchOS – and a number of hardware unveils. There are many developments coming out of this year’s conference that the Trulia iOS team is excited about, here are a few of the highlights:
Machine Learning and NLP
As we have shared before, we are investing heavily in Machine Learning at Trulia to further personalize and streamline the home search. As iOS engineers, we work closely with our Data Science teams to help teach our cloud models consumers’ home search habits and preferences, which has been great, but it requires having a reliable network connection. Now, thanks to Apple, for the first time, we can take these same models and run them on-device with Apple’s Machine Learning framework, Core ML. Pairing on-device and cloud based learning will open a whole new world of possibilities for where companies like Trulia can take their models, and we’re excited to explore what this can mean for our consumers.
Additionally, the enhancements to Natural Language Processing announced at the show sound promising. Today’s typical search mechanism is keyboard entry, but as more platforms support voice interaction and as the technology gets smarter, consumers may become more dependent on voice search. Voice interpretation poses interesting challenges and we believe NLP is the solution to tackle them. The Trulia iOS team is especially excited to see where Apple takes NLP and SiriKit.
As anticipated, iOS 11 was announced at this year’s WWDC with some great refinements and additions to the development kit. The biggest announcement on this front, from our perspective, is the Productivity APIs, namely drag and drop. At Trulia, we strive to build amazing apps that fulfill our consumers’ entire home shopping needs, but we also know that everyone is different. Many consumers prefer to make their own lists and use multiple tools during their search, and enabling drag and drop in our Trulia apps can help ensure we better serve those consumers with a more frictionless experience. Password Autofill is another notable refinement to iOS this year. It allows consumers to seamlessly transition from a desktop/mobile web experience to a native app without having to struggle with login credentials. This could be a key update for those looking to move fast on a home they want to buy or rent.
While we expect many of these announcements to have a great impact on consumers, as engineers, we’re perhaps even more excited about the enhancements happening under the hood, especially around Swift 4 and Xcode. The performance boosts and optimizations in both the Swift language and Xcode’s workflow are expected to greatly speed up development and release processes and we can’t wait to really get our hands on them.
Apple advocates that watch apps be “Glanceable,” “Actionable” and “Responsive.” We follow these guidelines with our own Trulia app for watchOS and are excited to take things even further following this year’s announcements. The UI flexibility enhancements that were unveiled at this year’s conference will allow us to better customize the consumer experience. The under-the-hood performance improvements will allow our apps to feel even smoother and more frictionless, and the enhancements to background processing give our apps new ways to feel rich and timely.
We launched our first tvOS app last summer after WWDC’16 and have continued to iterate on the consumer experience by adopting some of the various enhancements to the OS along with way. We’re excited about the enhancements in tvOS 11 around silent push notifications and background fetching to ensure content always feels fresh.
In summary, WWDC’17 didn’t disappoint. The week proved to be an exciting and productive one for the Trulia iOS team, and we’re looking forward to testing the new frameworks and APIs in the future. Stay tuned here to learn how we use these capabilities at Trulia.