App Development

iOS 14: What Does it Mean For Your App Development?

Image source: Apple

Users are delighted when new and old apps alike quickly add support for all of the latest and greatest goodies from Apple.

Yesterday, Apple’s highly anticipated Keynote and Platforms State of the Union at 2020 WWDC were livestreamed announcing some of the features we can look forward to in the next software release rolling out in the fall.

There are a few of important changes that will affect all apps: default Mac support for Apple Silicon-based Macs and privacy information being highlighted.

Beginning in fall 2020, most iOS and iPad OS apps will work out-of-the-box with Apple’s new Silicon based Macs. In most cases, it should work out-of-the-box with no additional effort. This is a flag that you can disable, but the expectation is that all iOS and iPad apps will support it unless there is a good reason not to. This means that as a part of due diligence, all three should be tested moving forward even if the client is mostly interested in an iOS-only-app, at the very least fixing any minor issues that may come up. However, clients should consider allowing the development team to dedicate to making it a good experience on iOS, iPad and Mac for every app, going a step further than just making sure it works. According to Apple, this should not take a significant amount of time to achieve.

Both the App Store as well as in-app prompts will be showing users more of what data is being tracked. It is important to be intentional about what to track. Displaying this privacy information encourages users to feel safe and build trust. This also means we should be intentional about what is being tracked. Make sure you aren’t collecting a bunch of data that is not adding value because then you will have to report that you are collecting it and too much data collection might be off-putting to users.

What’s New for iOS?

At a high level, third-party iOS apps will be able to benefit from the all new App Clips, a major overhaul of widgets, and native picture in picture support.

App Clips

This is huge for discoverability! App Clips allow users to use key pieces of the app without the friction of having to download the app – a similar function to Android’s Instant Apps. This feature is triggered by “App Clip code” or location, and integrates with Apple Pay and sign in with the app when possible for an even more frictionless experience.

Brands can prompt a user to download the full app after they have used App Clips to finish the desired task with speed and efficiency. There is a 10MB limit to the banner notification, but Apple has made optimizations on code compilation to help make this be very achievable. It’s all about speed – it downloads behind the scenes before they even click into it. The app provider can present notifications within 8 hours of the user opening the App Clip.


Clients should consider allowing a design pass to offer three different sizes of widgets highlighting important features of the app. They can be added on the home screen, it will be helpful to encapsulate the main functionality you think the user will value. It will have to be written in SwiftUI, meaning this will only work on apps that support iOS 13 and up. These widgets can be used on all three platforms. If you are worried about performance, don’t be. Apple has thought of this. It uses something called an Archived View, which captures updated information from the app at designated spaced out times throughout the day rather than running the code constantly.

Native PIP

Native picture-in-picture (PIP), new in iOS, enables users to watch a video or FaceTime and simultaneously use anything else on the phone. We recommend that if PIP functionality has been made for an app manually, consider replacing that implementation with the native player. This will ensure consistent experience with other apps and reduce the chance of introducing bugs.


  1. App Clips and widgets should be considered in a project plan from the beginning, as the app architecture will want to be built in such a way to easily support it. It won’t be as effective to take it on after the fact, so companies should consider this early on.
  2. The user journey that includes discovery via App Clips requires companies to expand their journey map to include this portion of the acquisition experience, considering scenarios in which their app provides instant utility to users, and how to keep users on the hook to download after use of the App Clip.

What Should You Do Now?

If you are wondering when to start preparing for the launch of the new iOS, the answer is now. It will be critical for companies to get ahead of changes to the app experience based on the new operating system, so that they are ready to align their experience to customer expectations come September.

The team at WillowTree is excited to see some of these new updates for iOS and even more excited to consider how these updates impact the work we do with our client-partners.

Ready to build software that’s ahead of the curve? Get in touch with our engineers.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with a WillowTree designer, strategist, or software engineer.

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