Apple augments CloudKit with new APIs – eyes enterprise

Apple cloudkitApple has given developers a new option in CloudKit, a new application programming interface (API) into its servers. The new feature is announced on the Apple developer news blog.

The new web interface gives users access to the same data as a developer’s app. It also makes it easier to read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key, says Apple.

The interface is designed to help developers to extend the use of the iCloud CloudKit database beyond user interaction with iOS, Mac or web apps and run independent code on servers that can add, delete and modify records in the CloudKit stack. Originally, any user interaction with CloudKit was limited to the APIs that Apple provided in apps but now Apple has granted developers greater license for using the technology outside of the confines of its own technology.

Developers had complained that though the CloudKit stack was useful its limitations stopped them from putting the system to more advanced use. One of the complaints was that modern apps rely on servers to perform tasks whilst users are away. The addition of the web API means developers can create a wider portfolio of apps using CloudKit as the backend.

The restrictions had meant that even simple transactions were difficult to set up outside of the confines of Apple. According to specialist Apple user blog 9 to 5 Mac, users were previously restricted from using RSS readers unless they opened a CloudKit-powered app. This, said the blog, was ‘impractical’ and forced developers to use other tools. As a result of the more open API it is much easier to add new feed items to the CloudKit stack from the server.

“Expect CloudKit adoption to rise with this announcement,” predicted blog author Benjamin Mayo. However, the lack of native software development kits for non-Apple platforms may continue to limit uptake, Mayo warned.

With rival cloud framework Parse due to close in 2017, Apple’s addition of a server side request endpoint could position it as the replacement to Parse as a cloud database engine.

Meanwhile, there’s speculation among analysts that Apple is preparing for a move into cloud computing services for enterprise customers.

With Apple expected to invest $4 billion in 2016 on warehouse-sized data centres, analysts at investment banks Morgan Stanley and Openheimer Holdings have suggested that Apple may move its cloud business away from AWS as competition intensifies.

In a report, Oppenheimer analyst Tim Horan mooted the idea that Apple might start its own infrastructure as a service (IaaS) business as it targets the corporate market. IBM and Apple have partnered for enterprise marketing.