App DevelopmentProduct DesignStrategy and Innovation

WWDC 2020: The Executive’s Guide to What Apple’s Updates Mean for Your Apps

Our teams have been eagerly awaiting Apple’s first-ever online-only Worldwide Developers Conference, particularly the 2020 Keynote that would reveal significant updates to the iPhone, Mac, and iPad operating systems.

We’ve taken some time to digest the updates that we will see come September in iOS 14, and outlined the most important changes that executives need to consider for their brand’s digital properties.

1. App Clips improve discoverability

App Clips enable people to use key pieces of an app without having to download the app, triggered by a location or an App Clip QR code — a similar feature to Android’s Instant Apps. After an App Clip is used, a brand can send a notification to ask the user to download the full app within 8 hours.

What you need to do

App Clips are all about helping users discover your app by showing them its core functionality. We recommend creating app clips that trigger in the context where you want your users to take action in the app. Providing clear utility at the point of discovery increases the likelihood of acquisition and continued engagement. Strategy for creating engaging App Clips will need to be as comprehensive and thoughtful as that of push notifications, if not even more so.

2. Widgets offer lightweight & deep-linked content

Widgets enable users to customize their home screen to display a small, glanceable representation of an app’s content in a variety of sizes — with deep-linking capabilities that bring users to a specific destination in the app. Widgets can only be built with SwiftUI.

What you need to do

Without a Widget, your app could get lost in the new home screen — though it’s important to note that Widgets do not provide stand alone functionality, and do not have interactive elements outside of deep links. Build widgets as a gateway into the most useful and relevant function in your app — you can even make them customizable so that your users can tell you what functions are most important to them. You’ll need SwiftUI talent to do so.

3. Privacy updates require intentionality around tracking

Privacy disclosure prompts will display both in the App Store and in-app, which increases data transparency by showing users exactly what type of data is being tracked about them, such as contact info, location, and financial info.

What you need to do

Be extremely intentional in what data you track and utilize in order to maintain user trust. If there is not a clear use case for certain data types, it’s not worth tracking.

4. Apple Silicon will run on new Macs

Beginning in fall 2020, most iOS and iPad OS apps will work out-of-the-box with the new Apple-Silicon-based Macs, a shift away from previously used Intel processors. App providers have the option to opt-out of distribution of iOS apps to Mac.

What you need to do

We would only recommend opting-out of distribution if your app has a certain hardware requirement such as AR that doesn’t work on a Mac. If opting-in, it is critical for your development & QA teams to test across devices, including iPhone, iPad, and Mac, though the change should not require a significant lift outside of this.

5. Overhauled Siri UI goes multimodal

A compact UI for Siri will display the tool’s symbol over the existing iOS 14 UI, rather than taking users to a separate screen that shows the text of user input and Siri’s response. Siri will also be able to display widgets when relevant to the request. The built-in Shortcuts app combined with the new UI enables voice and visuals to operate simultaneously in a true multimodal experience.

What you need to do

Our research shows that multimodal voice experiences are the future of voice — combining a spoken input with a visual output creates the most efficient experience. By building apps that are compatible with Shortcuts, brands can automatically integrate with Siri and users can take advantage of voice-activated Shortcuts for the use cases that matter most to them.

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The launch of iOS 14 is right around the corner, and users will expect come September that their iPhone apps have functionality that is most useful to them in the new operating system. Whether you need strategic journey mapping that uncovers potential friction points in App Clips, QA expertise that prepares your apps for any device, or SwiftUI talent to help build your Widgets, WillowTree can help you meet any challenge.

Get in touch with our team to make it count when Apple’s updates launch.

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