App Development

3 Ways iOS 8 and iPhone 6 / Plus Impact Everyone’s Mobile Strategy

Tuesday’s iOS 8 event included some of the most substantial announcements in years from Apple. The changes to phone size, the payment platform and Apple’s smartwatch are all mobile game changers. This was the most significant launch event since the iPad – and if you remember, the iPad was met with similar criticism as the watch is being subjected to today. Four years later, it is clear the iPad changed mobile computing (and in fact computing overall) – we believe that four years from now we’ll all see the Apple watch in the same light. Let’s look at how Tuesday’s announcements impact mobile strategy and apps currently in the marketplace or under development:

1. The Big Screen x 2 (iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus)

To the surprise of almost no one, yesterday Apple revealed two brand new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. As pre-event rumors suggested, the new iPhone models are sized at 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches respectively and greatly increase the amount of real estate that developers can utilize in apps. Interestingly, the iPhone 6 Plus allows for different and varied layouts compared to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5. The iPhone 6 Plus allows more content to be visible and supports iPad-style layouts in landscape mode. These layouts are made available via “size classes” that allow developers to provide unique layouts for variations in screen size and orientation.  The iPhone 6 (like previous iPhones), will support the “compact” size in landscape mode, whereas the iPhone 6 Plus supports the “regular” size class which allows it to display more content. In order to support multiple screen sizes and size classes, Apple has made “auto layout” available in previous OS versions; however until now, the benefits of using “auto layout” have not been fully realized.

To Do:

  • Immediately run all existing apps on the new screen sizes in iOS 8 using the simulator to test how your apps will appear and behave, given the new combination of OS and devices. Many older apps will not have used “auto layout” and so may need to be updated very quickly as the new devices hit the market.
  • Begin exploring ways with your design/strategy teams to maximize the new screen real estate and size classes available, especially on the iPhone 6 Plus.
  • If the iPhone 6 Plus gets significant market traction, we may be entering a world where three iOS designs are required for major projects, vs. the current two (iPhone and iPad).
  • The widget functionality introduced in iOS 8 will be particularly useful on the new devices given the larger screen sizes, so focus on how to leverage this access to the main notifications center.
  • Within six months, Apple will typically stop accepting updates in the old OS, so projects need to migrate to iOS 8 as quickly as possible. As always, apps that leverage new OS features are much more likely to be featured by Apple, and may move more quickly through the Apple review process.

2. Apple Pay Keeps Your Wallet at Bay

Apple Pay is arguably one of the biggest announcements of iOS 8 and marks the arrival of seamless mobile payments for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users (and iPhone 5/s users who buy an Apple Watch). Those who purchase one of the new devices will now be able to easily scan their existing cards and make mobile payments anywhere NFC transactions are accepted. Additionally, users who store their cards can now make seamless payments online, and within apps too. Apple’s jump into the payment space means big things for wireless and mobile payments in the coming year. We predict there will be an uptick in support for NFC payments in stores across the country as now both iOS and Android users can pay wirelessly. The bigger near-term impact is that apps selling physical goods can capture payment via a fingerprint scan, significantly reducing friction for mobile purchasing.

How Does Apple Pay Work?

  • To get started, iPhone users can simply use the primary card that Apple already has on file in iTunes. Users will be able to enter other credit cards by taking a photo of the card and adding it to Passbook.
  • Once added to the device, the information used to make a payment is secured in the iPhone 6’s secure element. This ensures the integrity of the card information as Apple does not store your card or payment history to keep your data private, and your credit card number is never transmitted through the NFC terminal.
  • Within an app selling physical goods, a user can complete a purchase via a quick fingerprint scan.
  • At a physical location, a user can wave the phone or Apple Watch near the NFC payment terminal to pay for items in-store, combined with a fingerprint confirmation.
  • In-app purchases are still used for digital goods and services. Apple Pay is meant for physical goods and services. Unlike in-app purchases, Apple does not take their traditional cut for purchases made with Apple Pay, but instead traditional merchant services and associated fees.
  • The details: The Apple Pay SDK only provides the information to request a payment and to receive a bundle that approves the payment with information on the purchase amounts. The final purchase is still handled by a payment gateway. Apple has a list of providers that already provide this support in their SDKs.

To Do:

  • If you sell non-digital goods (either online or in locations), you can immediately implement the Apple Pay SDK to easily capture one-tap payments within your apps.
  • If you manage physical locations, immediately begin a process of understanding how to deploy NFC. You may decide this is not the year, but you need to be prepared in the event this functionality takes off, which it may well given that both Apple and Android now support it.

3. One Watch to Rule Them All: Apple Watch

Apple introduced its first wearable yesterday, the Apple Watch. Like the iPhone 6, the Apple Watch is available in two different sizes (38mm and 44mm). The device utilizes a new rotating digital crown for most interactions and allows users to scroll and zoom. Apple Watch also makes use of a new type of multi-touch display that allows for swiping and utilizes sensing touch pressure technology that gives users the ability to execute an all new “force touch” gesture. While Apple refrained from providing specs for battery life, they did promise Apple Watch would be good for a full day of usage. The watch is a sealed package, and is powered using an inductive charger that’s equipped with Apple’s MagSafe technology. Apple Watch is packed with new sensors and technologies that give the watch great potential when it comes to executing new and interesting interactions. From sensors with the capability to read and send your heart rate to loved ones, to extremely accurate localized haptic feedback that guides you as you walk through the city, there are plenty of new bells and whistles to get excited about. Apple has also integrated its new Apple Pay directly into the watch.

To Do:

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Apple Watch is that unlike with the original iPhone, Apple is providing an SDK for developers right out of the box. As soon as the SDK is available (presumably in late 2014), we will be able to begin exploring approaches to extend existing applications to the Watch, especially focusing on highly personalized features like Alerts and small bits of time-sensitive information, as well as health-related information.

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