Apple came out swinging at the 2014 WWDC keynote when it came to their newest version of the company’s now ubiquitous mobile OS. Boasting dozens of features familiar to users of other handsets and a couple of unique ideas of its own, iOS 8 looks to be a feature filled step forward from the predominantly design driven revolution seen in the iOS 7 announcement.
Importantly, a number of new features within Apple’s new mobile OS will directly impact upon app marketers and mobile marketers when it is released to the mass market later this year. So here are eight of the major changes to iOS 8 that marketers and app developers need to bear in mind when considering the future of their applications.
1) Trending and Spotlight Search
ASO experts will be relieved to hear that Apple are introducing two new forms of search to the ecosystem in iOS 8. Trending search will help users discover apps that are popular across the world at a particular time, while Spotlight search within the device will now surface App Store results directly on the user device (and not just apps they’ve downloaded).
While precise details about both types of search remain relatively sketchy, it is likely to offer developers more opportunities to be stumbled upon by users in a number of useful contexts – meaning that ASO will become an even more beneficial element to the marketing mix in the future.
2) App Extensions
App extensions in iOS 8 will benefit marketers but will need some development support to make happen. Essentially, extensions will allow third party developers to increase the functionality of Apple’s first party apps – meaning the opportunity for photo filtering apps to directly plug into the Camera app or social networks to offer direct sharing from the Photos gallery.
It may seem small but this is a useful way of deepening immersion in your app. Rather than forcing a user to open your app to share, allowing a user to interact with your product while working seamlessly within another app will help to strengthen engagement with your service.
3) Video Clips
Another boon for the mobile marketer amongst you, Apple will be introducing video clips to iOS 8. Instead of allowing full length trailers in the style of Google Play’s Youtube integration, iOS 8 will offer short ‘Vine style’ trailers to allow you a quick teaser for your app.
While some will be disappointed about that, I think it’s a good move to keep it shorter and sweeter. App Store assets work best when they get to the point quickly meaning that a short, sharp trailer is much more likely to fit with what users want. It’ll also help you improve your video advertising efforts as well.
4) Notification Center Widgets
Want to have widgets on your iOS home screen? Well, you still can’t I’m afraid but you can now access widgets in the notification center. Whether it allows you to bid on an eBay item or like a post on Facebook, it’ll allow you to access deeper into an app with a quick flick of your thumb.
This is a big area for developers to capitalise upon. With Push Notifications regularly annoying unengaged users, developing a widget that works well for your engaged audience will help make the notification center much more useful to you. Allied to Apple’s announcement that you’ll be able to directly respond to other notifications in the center, it is an opportunity to keep your app being constantly used.
5) App Bundles
Merciful news for paid developers is the announcement of App Bundles to help drive sales. Demoed with the help of Toca Boca during the iOS 8 announcement, bundles will let users buy a whole load of paid titles with the help of one single purchase in the manner of a humble bundle.
This is surely going to be helpful for a number of developers. Rather than having to get people to buy each of your apps, perhaps never realising that more exist, this will be a handy shortcut that will get engaged users paying. Think about how well episodic games like The Wolf Among Us get users to buy additional content and you’ll realise how much potential this could have.
6) Family Sharing
At the same time, parents will be cheering the announcement that Apple is offering a modicum of parental control over device purchases from iOS 8 onwards. The new Family Sharing feature will allow a household to control up to 6 Apple IDs on a single credit card, with parents being able to approve or deny purchases on other devices via notifications that land on their home screen.
It is obviously far from perfect in the fact that it is still a step away from providing devices with a completely isolated “family zone” in the manner of Windows Phone. But it will help developers and marketers feel more confident that utilising IAPs and free to play mechanics will have less fear surrounding it and less of a stigma in general.
Healthkit, and in particular new app Health, will be adding fitness monitoring information to the iOS experience. Tracking a number of health related metrics, Apple will be attempting to provide each of its customers with a toolkit to look after themselves.
For app companies, the really important bit of this announcement is the fact that third party companies can access this data. With Apple getting Nike on board and working with hospitals to provide them with user data to improve their services, there are opportunities for those in the health and fitness space to use this information to bolster their apps further.
Another important kit provided by Apple with iOS 8 is the Homekit. This allows developers and product designers to use the OS to control a cavalcade of devices around the home either in app or via Siri, ranging from garage doors to dimmer switches.
iOS 8 on a roll
The real opportunity here is for product designers who share the Apple aesthetic and can secure certification from the Cupertino company. The likes of Honeywell and iHome already benefit from being partners on the scheme, so companies looking to mobilise the Internet of Things to their benefit will be looking to get involved with this soon.
And that’s far from all when it comes to interesting mobile announcements. From 3rd party keyboards to wi-fi phone calls, from third party use of Touch ID to Airdrop between Mac and PC, Apple really knocked iOS 8 out of the park. Helpful for developers, handy for users and malleable for marketers, the end of this year will be exciting indeed for app experts across the world.