WWDC 2019 Scholarship Winners: Lots of AR & Animation

WWDC scholarships are always a bit of fun, and a good look at how Apple sees its platforms and technologies moving. If this year’s submissions are any indication, augmented reality (AR) and animation will play a big role in Apple’s ecosystem moving forward (surprise, surprise).

Specifically, AR seems to be driving app development right now, at least in Apple’s view. We charted all scholarship submissions for 2019, then took a closer look at the technologies used by ‘approved’ submissions. Students listed the technologies they used; there was no algorithmic engine they were fed through to decipher the core competencies or technologies involved. (We also excluded technologies mentioned one time to keep the chart below a reasonable size.)

UIKit reigned supreme, but that’s easily dismissed. Writing a native iOS app demands as much; it’s like saying you used Xcode or Swift Playgrounds. UIKit is among the first things you import when starting an app.

AVFoundation came a close second, but this is another fairly basic toolkit from Apple. It houses things like sensors and camera access, which is typically necessary for AR apps; it’s hard to project a digital item into the real world without access to the camera. (But we can’t be dismissive; AVAVFoundationFoundation is huge, and can be cumbersome, so kudos to the students who used it.)

From there, we see a line in the sand of sorts. SpriteKit and SceneKit were both in heavy use for approved WWDC 2019 Scholarship submissions. SpriteKit handles 2D images; a good representation of a winning submission that uses SpriteKit is ‘Clean Cities,’ which leverages a Swift Playground interface to help educate kids about renewable energy.

SceneKit handles 3D content, and is highly complimentary for use with AR apps. This is likely why it was mentioned almost as much as ARKit – which naturally handles the heavy lifting for augmented reality apps.

But there’s also a touch of controversy surrounding the WWDC 2019 scholarship program. Every year (usually via a subreddit or other iOS developer community-based sites), at least one person will solicit others to write an app for them, which they plan to submit as their own to get a free WWDC ticket. This year, it seems at least one approved submission was purchased via CodeCanyon for $30:

😔 I’m incredibly disappointed to hear of some people falsely submitting a playground that was not their work to receive a #WWDCScholarship. It really ruins things for all the applicants that I *know* worked hard and tried their best, just to be rejected. cc @EEhare pic.twitter.com/EkI7Ijfxhn— Julian Schiavo (@justJS_dev) April 17, 2019

It’s unfortunate, but also not new. We’re sure these are isolated events, and most WWDC scholarship submissions are honest work, but it casts a shadow on the program that doesn’t need to be there.