Xcode 12.5 now requires Big Sur - What’s new in this release?

Upgrading to Xcode 12.5 now requires Big Sur. What does that mean for your team? In this post, we give you insights into the new Xcode and iOS SDK.

Big Sur background with Xcode icon

Migrating to Big Sur

If you want to run Xcode 12.5, you’re going to need Big Sur. However, ensuring that every developer on your team is working with the minimum required hardware for Big Sur, and making any peripheral upgrades to your CI build environment, such as upgrading your ESXi version if working with VMware, can stack up to make this a non-trivial change. So, is making the upgrade worth it? Here are some of the most important features for developers in Xcode 12.5 and iOS 14.5 SDK.

Xcode 12.5

Upgrading to the latest Xcode version gives developers access to the corresponding SDKs for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.  These updates provide quality of life and feature improvements for developers in Xcode and new end-user features that developers can utilize.

Here are some highlights:

  • Simulator now supports recording video (or animated gif) from within the app.
  • Swift Build times are faster with incremental compilation. When you change code within the body of a structclassenumprotocol, or extension, Swift now recompiles far fewer files in that module than before.
  • ExpectFailure - XCTest now supports marketing test failures as “expected.” These don’t impact overall pass/fail results and are displayed differently in Test Report. This method also allows for an assert statement after the test fails.

See the Xcode 12.5 release notes here.

iOS 14.5 SDK

Given the current state of the world, the feature that will get the most attention is a Face ID workaround for Apple Watch users who are wearing a mask, but iOS 14.5 does make updates that will impact developers in other ways as well. Privacy-related updates to the iOS 14.5 SDK may be motivation enough to make the upgrade to Big Sur.

  • Additional privacy with tracking opt-in. If your app uses the random advertising identifier, you’ll need to start asking for customer permission to enable it.
  • iPads with the Smart Folio closed will now automatically mute the microphone. However, if your app requires continuous recording, there is a method to override it.
  • Privacy-preserving attribution. WebKit includes a way for websites to receive ad click attribution data through a method that maintains users' privacy.
  • For promoted apps, view-through attribution allows developers to know how many people opened their app after installing.
  • Finally, for developers who depend on GPU resources, added GPU performance counters in Xcode and Metal system trace will help track your app's GPU usage.

See the iOS & iPadOS 14.5 release notes here.

MacStadium can help!

If you need a Big Sur compatible build machine, you can quickly activate one at MacStadium. And if you are using virtualization, Orka also supports Big Sur.