App Development

App Clips: A New Gateway for Users to Experience

Image Source: Apple

Over 9 years ago, Apple introduced the phrase, “There’s an App for that!”. Last week, Apple announced iOS 14 at their annual Worldwide Developer Conference. With iOS 14 come App Clips, a new gateway for users to experience your app.

App Clips, as the name would suggest, are clips of your app experience. Consider them smaller, quicker-to-use mini versions of your app. App Clips allow users to enjoy your app without having to download the full version.

What does it mean for your app?

While the announcement of widgets brings a way for your app to stand out on your user’s device, App Clips introduce a way for your app to stand out in the world. App Clips can take your App from the digital world into the physical. This is done by featuring access to your App Clip in different locations where your business is conducted. Long line at a grocery store? No problem, your customers can use an App Clip conveniently located next to the checkout line to fulfill their purchase. How about when you need to pay for parking but you forgot your wallet? No problem, an App Clip on the parking meter has you covered! Apple releases new features every year and with over a million apps on the App Store, App Clips can be the feature that makes your app stand out amongst the others. Secure processes that require your users to sign in or sign up can be handled from an App Clip. If your app supports “Sign in/up with Apple” your App Clip can too! While your app has many features, sometimes your users do not get to experience all of them. With App Clips you can now highlight the features that make your app stand out. Whether it is your amazing checkout experience or your login experience, App Clips lets your users get to the part of your App that they need with ease.

app clip Image Source: Apple

A new way to advertise your app

Your users can discover your App Clips through both digital and physical invocation methods such as through iMessages, the Smart App Banner, location-based suggestions, as well as with NFC tags and QR Codes. With these different avenues for users to get your App Clip comes new opportunities to advertise. It is as simple as adding a QR Code or an NFC Tag to a place where your business can be conducted. Apple will be releasing a special Apple-designed App Clip code that will let your users know there is an App Clip for the task they’re attempting to execute. Users can then scan the code to quickly download your App Clip. With some small adjustments, your company’s smart banner can navigate. You can even place an App Clip on Apple Maps under the description of your company. Since App Clips are available on-demand, users can just launch it without having to download the main app.

Every industry can benefit from having an App Clip, and here’s how

Financial services companies can bring forward small, simple experiences in their app like depositing a check, checking your balance, and more. Media and Entertainment companies fall into the same boat as well. There are a host of new experiences movie theaters can provide for their customers. Imagine offering App Clips for purchasing tickets, buying concessions, or easily joining a loyalty program. Then they can place it around the theater to let moviegoers know, “Hey, there’s an App Clip for this!”. The same rich feature set can be enjoyed by loyalty and hospitality companies alike. You can take the check-in and check-out process of your hospitality company to an App Clip. The Digital Workplace industry can even benefit from App Clips applying a similar approach as the other industries. Imagine an App Clip to clock in and clock out of work. Even smaller companies that do not have an app, can use App Clips. Yelp, a company that supports multiple businesses, can make an App Clip for your business.

The examples from each industry barely scratch the surface; there are many other things that you can do with an App Clip.

What does it mean for your app developers?

App Clips allow developers to highlight specific features in their apps. Not only that, developers can create multiple App Clips to highlight different experiences. On top of that, since App Clips are considered as a part of your app, most of the code in your App Clip comes from code in your app. You just reuse and include the code that you need in a new build target for your App Clip. An example of this would be a restaurant app that has multiple locations and allows users to look at the closest restaurant and order from them. The developer can set up multiple app clips for each restaurant location containing information such as hours, menu, and an image of the restaurant. This may sound like companies may have to re-architect their app to support App Clips but your app has all this information in it. Your App Clip can use the same code in your main app that retrieves the restaurant information from the server and then display that information to your users.

While this is not a requirement for your app in general, I recommend supporting deep linking to give your users the most seamless experience. If a user tries to use your App Clip and they already have your app, instead, the App Clip invocation will open your app to your initial screen. While if you have deep linking in your app, users can open up directly into the screen that you invoked with the App Clip.

Key Takeaways

Ultimately, App Clips give companies and developers the ability to highlight features of their app. App developers sometimes have difficulties getting their app out there in the world physically. App Clips bridge that gap by creating physical gateways for users to use different features in their app with QR Codes and NFC tags. This feature provides a new avenue for developers and companies to engage with their users.

In iOS 14, adding an App Clip can put your app front and center for your users in situations that they need it. You can be checking your balance at a bank, checking out at a grocery store, buying a movie ticket, or even just playing a game, you can use an App Clip to make their experiences more smooth and meaningful. In a future blog post, I’ll walk you through how you can create an App Clip for your app.

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