Apple’s cloud-services plan emerges with Xcode Cloud developer tool

Xcode Cloud is a new CI/CD application service for developers working on Apple products, and it arrived roughly 18 months after the company started a big push to hire cloud developers.

Susan Prescott speaks at WWDC 2021

Susan Prescott, the vice president of worldwide developer relations at Apple, speaks at WWDC 2021.

Screenshot: WWDC

More than a year after Apple started turning heads in enterprise tech by hiring some of the best and brightest cloud engineering talent in the game, its cloud strategy became a little clearer at WWDC 2021.

Apple announced Xcode Cloud during its annual developer event Monday, a cloud-based continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) service designed for Apple developers. Xcode Cloud will allow developers using the Xcode development tool to build, test and deploy applications for any of Apple's operating systems via an Apple-managed service that runs on its infrastructure, rather than on a developer's laptop or in a data center.

Writing code is only the first step in getting any application out to users. That code has to be translated into a format that can be read by a computer, or "built." It then needs to be tested to ensure it will perform as intended, and it needs to be delivered to the end user.

When Apple developers write apps for iOS or macOS on their laptops, they often have to run the build process and those tests on their own machines, or on services like MacStadium or AWS's cloud-based Mac instances. Now they'll have an option to use Apple's computing resources to accomplish those tasks, which would allow them to work on other projects while those processes run or potentially save money on computing resources.

"Xcode Cloud simplifies the workflow by bringing everything together so as an individual developer you can focus your energy on being more creative, and development teams can collaborate more effectively," said Susan Prescott, Apple's vice president of worldwide developer relations, during the keynote event. Specific pricing will be released later in the year.

One of the trickier parts of writing an iOS or macOS application is making sure it will run smoothly on the wide variety of Apple hardware out in the wild. Xcode Cloud will allow users to run those different tests in parallel on Apple infrastructure, which is beyond the capabilities of laptop-based testing tools.

Application delivery is less of a concern in Apple's universe, given its tight control over App Store distribution. However, Xcode Cloud also promises to make it easier for developers to deliver near-final applications to a closed group of beta testers.

The new service itself will be available as a limited beta, with more details expected to be released at WWDC this week; a public beta will launch later in the year, Prescott said. Xcode Cloud is expected to become generally available next year.

Until recently, Apple was something of an afterthought in the cloud services realm dominated by AWS, Microsoft and Google. But around the end of 2019 and continuing into 2020, Apple began hiring some very prominent engineers with experience in cloud-native technologies like containers and Kubernetes, declining (in characteristic fashion) to elaborate what it had in mind for such an expensive hiring push.

Apple won't be competing with prominent CI/CD vendors like Jenkins, CircleCI and JFrog with Xcode Cloud, which appears to work exclusively for applications designed around Apple's products. This could make it a non-starter for larger development shops that need tools that support web and Android applications, but the announcement generated a sizable amount of positive feedback in the hours after it was announced in developer channels.


Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep ReadingShow less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep ReadingShow less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.


Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories