The Apple conference earlier this month saw the eagerly anticipated announcement of the new iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch 2. We also now have iOS 10, which was announced at the previous Apple event back in June but released this week. But what does it all mean for developers? Can brands do anything new with their apps?
Early reviews of the new iPhones have suggested consumers are slightly underwhelmed. Improved battery and performance are to be expected, and many would argue were much needed, but there are only slight boosts with these devices. With more apps using power intensive features such as location services, developers were certainly hoping for a much improved battery life. The removal of the headphone jack from the new devices has been seen as an inconvenience and the UK starting price of £599 is an issue.
There are some interesting advancements though. The camera quality (front and back) has improved significantly, a welcome development for selfie fans, but also for the more serious photographer. Professionals may not use their iPhones as their main camera but with the release of iOS apps such as Cardboard Camera by Google, the improved picture quality does present new opportunities for user generated VR. Further, while the new device’s protection against water won’t make a difference for many users, combined with the new camera it could make for some interesting holiday albums!
Device capacity has been increased again, continuing the trend from Apple. This is because iPhones are used for more things now; we need storage for music and video, as well as apps, which are generally bigger in file size now due to being more sophisticated pieces of software. Apple clearly understand that consumers use these devices as media players, as evident by the new dual speaker system, which is said to be twice as loud as the iPhone 6s.
The new watch has similar improvements. It is water resistant, allowing users to swim with their watch on and has improved performance. It also now has a built in GPS chip for improved tracking, which allows users to go for a run without also carrying their iPhone.
However, it is actually the new operating system, iOS10, billed by Apple as the biggest iOS release ever, that presents the most exciting new opportunities for apps, with new APIs and services available for developers.
Following on from the success of emoji apps from celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, iMessage now has a direct link to the App Store. This already provides much more than emojis and stickers though, with collaboration apps for event planning, list management and budgeting already popular. iMessage apps can be standalone items or extensions to an iOS app, giving brands new opportunities and a real presence in messages.
Use of Siri has also been opened up to developers for the first time. Users can now access content and features in apps by using their voice. This is ideal for cookery apps, when a user’s hands are full of ingredients, or navigation apps, when the user’s hands are on the wheel. But it also presents new opportunities for all other types of apps to make things more convenient for their users. Think Amazon Echo but from your iPhone through the integration with apps.
Apple Maps has also been improved, now allowing users to book, track and pay for location based services. It even suggests relevant apps for the user’s current location, opening up new promotion opportunities for the likes of restaurants, events and travel providers.
There are a whole host of minor operating system features as well which developers can now use to enhance apps. For example, Siri will now recognise when a user is driving and automatically drop a pin when they stop for use in a ‘Find my car’ feature. This will be a great addition to many travel and utility apps that would’ve previously been a lot of work.
The adoption of new operating systems is always fast but users are upgrading to iOS10 faster than ever before. They will expect their favourite apps to be integrated with the new OS features very soon but app owners should realise that it isn’t automatic. The apps will require updates to take advantage of the new iOS10 features.
If you want to modernise your apps or speak about new opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.