There was no shortage of announcements made this year at Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). We’re going to take a closer look at a few updates coming this fall to Apple’s suite of devices. For a detailed recap of the announcements made at WWDC, read our WWDC Keynote Recap.
Hidden amidst Apple’s announcements of their updated apps is the emergence of a new theme in iOS: extensions. Maps, Messages, Siri, and even notifications received robust updates that allow developers to engage with users in more ways than ever. What Apple seems to be heading towards: extensions are the new apps.
What are extensions? Think of them as add-ons for Apple’s first party apps, such as Maps and iMessage. These add-ons will range from shortcuts to extended functionality. For example, with Maps, you will be able to look up a location, see hotels in the area, and book a room without having to ever leave the app.
Extensions add new touchpoints in iOS
Maps extensions are critical for restaurants, transportations services, hotels, retail and more since users will be able to book dinner reservations and request a ride to the location – all while using Maps. While message extensions are not practical for every brand, they should be considered as they will be a great benefit for those who can find a connection with their product or service. There is even an iMessage App Store, which means iMessage extensions have a dramatically increased chance of being discovered. Siri extensions currently have limited uses, but they are certainly an interesting start to a new line of features. Also, with previews available for notifications, it’s important to consider what these interactions will look like for your app while also considering the user’s privacy.
Better UX on watchOS
The latest Apple Watch update will allow it to learn which apps are used most and prioritize updates and processing power accordingly. Improved launch times and background updates make interactions almost instantaneous. No more raising your wrist, waiting for the app to load and waiting for the content to refresh. Also, widgets are now available to developers. Brands must consider whether widgets are a valuable add-on for their app as users will now be able to basically save and scroll through their favorite apps on the Apple Watch.
Single sign-in on tvOS
Authentication can be an infuriating process when using the same account across multiple apps. Now, for pay-TV channels on Apple TV, users will be able to sign-in once and access all of the apps available to them through their cable provider. This may not be big news for individual content creators, but for any brand with a TV channel, it’s a vast improvement for accessing your content. Users who originally “didn’t feel like taking the time to log-in again” will now simply have to download your app to enjoy the content.
Improved mobile communication with macOS
OS X, now macOS, mainly received quality-of-life improvements in the Sierra update. The Apple Watch now allows auto-login on macOS and ApplePay is available online with mobile authentication. This added continuity and communication between devices creates opportunities for new interactions. One industry that will specifically benefit from ApplePay’s new online presence is eCommerce.
Consider this: someone’s shopping online and they’re ready to check out, only to realize they need to enter their credit card information and they left their wallet in the bedroom. With ApplePay, they’ll be able to login to their account, a confirmation request will appear on their iPhone, they approve their purchase, and that’s it. Not only does it provide added security, it cuts down on time spent making online purchases; especially on websites that a user may not have previously visited.
Information is becoming easier to share between devices and is a vital factor in user experience between screens. If there is a mobile app equivalent of a macOS application, consider how to leverage this new functionality for added use between devices; if there is not a mobile companion app, you may want to consider creating one.
Siri is now available to developers
Integrations are limited at the moment, but this is a very interesting update. One subtle announcement made that makes this even more exciting is the ability to include speech recognition in any iOS app. This furthers the trend of omnipresent interfaces, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Instead of having to physically interact with technology, omnipresent interfaces allow interaction with a device without having it near you. Apple is heading towards a connected home and further connected ecosystem in their suite of devices. By integrating Siri into apps and macOS, seamless transitions between devices and nearly conversational control of them is on its way. What form this will take varies by app and brand, but it’s an exciting addition for future opportunities nonetheless.