iOS 11. iPhone X. A whole new App Store.
The latest Apple Special Event brought us several major announcements that impact consumers and professionals alike. Some new products, like the new App Store layout, could have profound implications for mobile marketers. And it looks as though iOS 11 will change the way users interact with apps in a few key ways as well, once it goes live on Sept. 19.
If you missed the event, and can’t make it to a local “Town Hall,” we’ve got you covered. Read on for a recap of the major changes headed your way.
iOS 11 New Features
At the Apple Special Event, iOS 11 was announced for release on Sept. 19. The new version of the OS packs several features that mobile marketers need to be aware of.
iOS 11 Multitasking
Multitasking on the iPad received a major update. Users can open apps from the dock (accessible from within other apps), and immediately open new apps next to the currently active window. You can even drag and drop images from one app to another. Both apps remain active, making it easier to chat with friends while getting work done, or refer to a document while composing an email.
Developers of messaging and social media apps may find this update especially valuable. The ability to seamlessly open and close new apps without interrupting the current app will make it easier to track social feeds and chats. iOS 11 will decrease friction for messaging apps, potentially lifting engagement.
Siri in iOS 11
Siri will see improved functionality in iOS 11. Its AI will help bridge the gap between apps for a more seamless user experience. For example, if someone tells Siri to play some music, it might start with one of their most-listened tracks instead of shuffling the playlist. Similarly, Siri will now suggest searches and autocomplete words based on what you’ve been reading or watching.
Siri’s new features are part of an industry-wide push for more personalization in mobile products. Personalization on the OS level complements personalization on the app level.
For music apps, users can ask Siri questions about the current track (e.g., “Who’s the drummer in this song?”). Even if a music streaming app has this data on file, it’s an extra point of friction for users to manually look it up. The overall user experience is improved if users can look up music trivia on the OS level while multitasking with other apps. Meanwhile, the music app continues to deliver a personalized playlist based on the user’s listening history.
iOS 11 Notifications
Notifications are an important tool for mobile marketers, so changes on the OS level could have dramatic implications. Fortunately, iOS 11’s new lock screen makes it easier to access push notifications. Both recent and missed notifications are visible at a glance if you swipe up. Ensuring that recent notifications persist on the lock screen even after they’ve been read could lead to a higher open rate on iOS, which has traditionally lagged behind Android.
App Store New Features
Perhaps the biggest upgrade promised by iOS 11 is the new and improved App Store. The store will feature an entirely new Games tab to separate games from other types of apps. In addition, there will be a Today tab, featuring hand-curated articles on popular apps and games.
Broadly speaking, the App Store is becoming less of a traditional store and more of an app discovery platform. This is great news for consumers and publishers alike. Now that the App Store is less driven by Top 10 charts, it will be easier for niche apps to find their way into the limelight. Articles, tutorials, and editor-curated lists all have the potential to shine the spotlight on up-and-coming apps, even if they aren’t dominating the downloads charts yet.
But with increased discoverability comes increased competition. App Store Optimization will become even more important in iOS 11, because there are more elements to optimize. The new and improved product page will include a subtitle field and more app previews. These elements give app marketers a chance to show off their product’s key features, but they also add more variables to the ASO process.
Search, as a whole, is receiving an overhaul as well. In addition to apps, search results now include developers, in-app purchases, categories, editorial stories, tips and tricks, and collections.
With a more complex content discovery process, app teams won’t be able to overspend on acquisition to force their way into the top sellers charts; they’ll need more creative marketing strategies to catch the eyes of Apple’s editors.
In addition to app discoverability changes, the new App Store introduces an easier way to browse in-app purchases.
Customers can browse in-app purchases directly on the App Store and purchase add-ons even before downloading the app. These in-app purchases will appear in search results, and they’re available to be featured by Apple’s editorial team, just like a standalone app.
The new App Store will help mobile teams who want to balance their efforts between acquisition and retention. With less pressure to spend on acquisition for App Store rankings, it will be easier to devote time and spend on sustainable retention strategies.
New Hardware: iPhone 8 & iPhone X
Hardware updates are almost as big a deal for app marketers as they are for consumers. This event broke the web (and the bank) with all of its announcements. Two new versions of the iPhone are the most pertinent upcoming devices for mobile marketers to watch.
The iPhone 8 will launch Sept. 22 with preorders available from Sept. 15. The device will feature:
- Retina HD displays, which include Apple’s True Tone (auto white balance) feature
- Apple-designed GPUs, which will help power augmented reality and machine learning apps
- Video recording up to 4K resolution at 60FPS
- QI wireless charging
- A11 Bionic, a new six-core chip capable of facial recognition through neural networks
The iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone Ten”) was the final announcement of the show. Launching on Nov. 3 with preorders from Oct. 27, this device takes the iPhone in a bold new direction. Its features include:
- OLED display capable of producing deeper blacks and a higher contrast ratio (named Super Retina)
- End-to-end glass design with no home button
- Face ID with TrueDepth camera, which allows users to lock their devices with a smile (a.k.a. facial recognition)
- Animoji, which is a new type of animated emojis that can be customized based on each user’s facial expressions
- Like the iPhone 8 & 8 Plus, the iPhone X supports QI wireless charging & includes the A11 chip
With both devices hitting the market this fall, there’s not much time for mobile marketers to prepare. The iPhone X’s Animoji feature could become a hit with consumers and businesses alike — we’ve already seen that emoji usage in marketing is on the rise. And with Apple’s new built-in GPU in the iPhone 8, there will be more ways to incorporate machine learning into all types of apps.
Now that we know what’s coming, it’s time to update your mobile marketing strategy to ensure your app is ready.
This article originally appeared in Leanplum.