From Swift Playgrounds: iPhone App Wireframe Design’s Future
If you are looking forward to finding some information lists like “What are the best tools for wireframing iPhone apps”, “50 iPhone app wireframe templates”, or “How to make a mobile app wireframe faster and greater”, you may get disappointed with this article. There are infinite articles with titles mentioned above on the Internet, and someone will renew the information regularly. What are we going to talk about is whether we should continue to care about the prototypes and wireframes that conform the iOS design standard.
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From a few years ago, some discussions like “Apple has dead” or “the end of iOS platform” began to repeat every year, especially when some very potential and attractive products came out from the Android camp. This kind of discussions has attracted more public attention. We can’t deny that mobile devices are the main resource of profit for Apple, but it really will die because of the lacking of creativity of the new iPhones and dispensable iPads?
In 2014, Apple released its’ own programming language, Swift. Until today (April 26th, 2017), the Swift community has released the version 3.1. This programming language designed by Apple in California has changed its’ image of a language for playing to the most beautiful programming language for many programmers and developers in just more than 2 years. And the intention of Apple to replace Objective-C with it is becoming more and more obvious, though it has many problems at present.
And Apple's view does not only stop at the level of expanding Swift's influence with open source among current programmers. In June 2016, Apple launched its Swift Playgrounds application towards children and adolescents in the WWDC. At that time, also there were many people who had no perspective in the future of this app. Because its essence is another superior version of iBooks. Its’ downloadable courses are interactive books. However, if we value this act of Apple today, it has been subtle and historical.
With the tendency to move their businesses to the Internet in many fields, many types of needs and services already have their own apps. In many Western countries, programming has become one of the compulsory courses for students between 6 and 15 years. In Asia, China, being the largest market for electronic products, is having large mutations. Years ago, parents were still sending their children to art courses. But today, the most popular course is programming. News with titles such as "Learning programming from kindergarten", "Programming: New compulsory courses for students over 6 years old" can be seen anywhere. Every change in China is so fast. If someone wants to take the opportunity, he needs to make preparations for a few years in advance. But Apple has made these preparations and with which we can anticipate the great advantage of Swift Playgrounds.
If we ask the children now, it is possible that most of them do not know what the "Start" button is, what is the Symbian system, what is C ++, but surely they have heard the name of iPhone and iPad. As they are two of the electronic products that are used by the children from their childhood, it will be good a strategy to take advantage of iPad to promote the Swift language. In addition, by Swift's characteristic of resembling a natural language, it is easier for children to understand. But why children? We can ask ourselves about the importance of the mother tongue.
What Apple wants to do is turn the Swift Language into the children's native programming language. For this reason, the complicated codes have been replaced by the colored scenes and an animated character. Through the courses, children can control the character programming, that is very easy for children who have become accustomed to video games. Although it looks a little like Code Combat, Apple's investment in education and the range covered by Apple products makes the Swift Language more powerful.
Imagine, with this group of children who used Apple products since childhood and who took Swift as their first programming language, when a part of them become programmers and developers in the future, which platforms and programming languages will get more interest? In addition, the iOS is increasingly open, which will give children who appreciate more freedom and independence a wider platform where they can show their imagination and skills. (We could not imagine the emergence of apps like Workflow, Launcher, and IFTTT in the past years.) Therefore, although Android devices have occupied a large part of the market, with the impression of being "cool" for Apple products, Apple will not lose its position, and people who know how to create better iPhone app wireframe will be needed.
However, by the "What you see, what you have" mode of Swift Playgrounds and Xcode, a part of the people have an illusion that in the future only programming will settle down the UI and UX designs without designers. The truth is that we can only say that with the advancement of software development, the distinction between developers and designers will be greater instead of the integration of the two works.
In the first place, users have higher requirements to the quality of apps and software, not only about speed and stability. Because the well-designed interface, the comfortable color tint, and the pretty pictures are what users can experience directly. All these elements depend on the design of mobile app wireframe. Secondly, although many people are trying to change the programming process completely to "What you see is what you have" mode, which can make it much easier for developers, you cannot replace the work like investigation and drawing hundreds of drafts with a few lines of code. For example, if you develop an iPhone app, and you don’t have the iPhone app wireframe or prototype you need, I doubt a lot if you can get it. Yes, there are some full-stack designers. That is to say, designers who program and programmers who design, but there are only a few people who can do both jobs outstanding.
As mentioned before, in front of this new mode of programming or to the new direction of some companies to "finish programming only with designing the prototype", the current designers do not need to worry. What they have to do is not sign up for a programming course but realize the separation of development jobs and designers, and decide if you need to choose an address between computer software and mobile apps, while reinforcing their professional faculties like being able to settle down independently a creation of a wireframe of iOS app. Many famous prototype design software companies such as Mockplus, Axure, UXPin, and Proto.io have foreseen the great need for UI and UX professional designers under the trend of "Everyone can program" and their market will be bigger.
At the same time, more and more newcomers are entering the field, because some of them need to learn UX or UI design from the start, they need a tool that can wireframes and prototypes faster so that the tool can solve their needs may be more competitive in the future.
But the difference of the design languages between Apple and Google is the puzzle for many developers and small groups whose products are sold on the two platforms. With the development of these platforms and the continuous distinction of works, they will be different groups that are in charge of the designs for two systems. Although now a designer can do designs for both systems at a time, with the increasing of user demands it will be better for small groups to go to the most professional in some system.
Combine what we talked above, with the perspective of Apple in its future and the integration of teenage developers, in the competition between mobile systems, Apple will greatly increase its competitiveness by having attracted developers of Swift; when the works of developer and designer are clearer and under the situation that many new apps are released in the App Store, the need for designers who can handle the design well and know the standard of prototypes and iPhone app wireframe (better for wireframe of iOS app) will grow extremely. As long as Apple keeps up its steps, more and more people will enter the environment finely believed by Apple and its future will catch a lot of attention.