Every new iOS version brings along both new “goodies” and advancements to existing technologies for all developers around the globe. Obviously, the latest version, iOS 9, could not just stay out of this tradition, so once again developers have new frameworks and APIs at their disposal that let them leverage their applications to even higher levels. One of those is the Core Spotlight framework that contains some new great APIs that just wait for developers to put them in action.
The Core Spotlight (CS) framework is part of a greater collection of APIs, known as Search APIs, which give the opportunity to programmers to increase the discoverability, visibility and ease of access of their apps significantly, and in a fashion that wasn’t possible to be used in earlier versions of iOS. The Search APIs bring users and apps closer, as the first can reach the latter in new and faster ways, but also the latter can become more responsive and immediate to the first ones. Besides the Core Spotlight, the other new search capabilities in iOS 9 include (just for reference):
- New methods and properties in the NSUserActivity class (which is responsible for storing an app state for restoring at a later time).
- The web markup that makes web content searchable in a device.
- The universal links that let apps get launched directly from links in web content.
We won’t deal with the above three in this post, but we’ll see the details of the Core Spotlight framework. But before that, what exactly is it about?
The Core Spotlight framework makes the data of an app searchable on the Spotlight, and subsequently bring results regarding an app along with any other results that the system returns. That’s quite impressing and revolutionary, as for first time users can spot data for custom apps, not just Apple’s, and interact with them. By saying that users can interact with the results relevant to a custom app, I mean that not only the app will be automatically launched when such a result record gets tapped, but developers are also given the power to drive users to specific view controllers that are most appropriate and suitable for the data that were selected on Spotlight.
From the developer’s point of view, integrating the Core Spotlight framework and using the provided APIs doesn’t consist of a complicated process. As you’ll find out through the upcoming parts of this tutorial, doing so requires only a few lines of code. The “heart” of that process lies to the fact that developers have to “ask” iOS to index their app’s data, which must be described in a specific way prior to that.
As this tutorial is dedicated to the Core Spotlight framework, I don’t intend to get into the details in this introduction. If you’re interested in learning how to implement something that I personally find really awesome, then please continue reading. I’m confident that at the end of your reading you’ll be feeling satisfied by having learnt how easy it is to make your app spottable on the Spotlight.