Every WWDC, it’s the same thing: rumors spread ahead of time and then everybody has an opinion on what a failure/success it is for Apple.
For app developers, it’s always interesting to take a look into the future of iOS and how it could impact their lives and businesses.
Because each change on Apple’s side is likely to bring new challenges. And new opportunities. That why we like to take a look at how it impacts app developers and mobile app companies, like we did with iOS 6 and its new App Store.
This time, since we’re a bit late to the party (clients first!), we decided to do a (narrated) wrap up of the best posts on the subject. And hopefully help you cut through the noise if you want to catch up.
If you can’t or don’t want to try the iOS 7 beta just yet (check the end of the post if you do), here are a couple of videos:
The new design
Let’s start with the official stuff.
As usual, Apple put together a pretty cool page about its new OS stating that iOS 7 is “The Mobile OS from a new perspective”. We’re glad they’re realizing the interest of video to show the users’ interactions.
I think it was time for a change, and I was pretty excited to see what they would come up with.
And the rumors were true.
This is flat. Really flat. But it’s not 2-Dimensional and there is depth to it.
And we’re seeing several posts from designers about how iOS 7 should look like (or its icons).
People can say what they want, but iOS 7 is the biggest design change for Apple since the iPhone came out. The changes we had seen before were way smaller (even if some had big impacts): notification center, redesigned music app, new app store design, etc.
Is it possible that they have gone too far in the other direction? Not only completely leaving textures and skeuomorphism, but also gradients, text shadows and box shadows.
It feels pretty good when using it though, and a lot of people are judging before having actually tried it. It might not be art and I do have some doubts about the design of some icons (Safari icon, I’m looking at you), but it makes life easier for users on several levels. At least when it won’t be in beta mode anymore.
As with each iOS update, Apple users get to have a few new welcomed features.
Sure, they’ve not invented them.
It seems that for iOS 7 Apple borrowed ideas from a couple sources (“Metro” from Windows Phone, Google’s apps, etc.). But who cares, as long as it lets you use your iPhone in a better way? It was time that we be able to change our Wifi/bluetooth settings quickly for example, and I’m glad they introduced the Control Center.
What iOS 7 means for app developers and marketers?
But what about you? What about all the app developers, startups and companies that have to deal with this brand new iOS 7?
Whether you like iOS 7 or not, if you develop or market iOS apps then you have to embrace it. And the best way to do that is to consider the opportunities it brings.
Stay ahead of the game
Each time Apple innovates or launches a new product, they like developers and companies that are the first to follow along. This was true for the switch to retina displays and the launch of the iPhone 5.
Each time, Apple featured innovative apps that used the latest technology. Or gave them Apple Design Awards.
Follow the design guidelines
Apple wants you to follow the guidelines they used to build iOS 7, and has already published their iOS 7 UI Transition Guide to make sure they embark app developers with them (here is a recap from TC if you’re in a hurry – or don’t have a developer account).
Two sections there, and two good reasons to check it out: there are the things that every app must do, and the things that every app should do. Pretty clear.
They also quickly made available the videos from the WWDC to help you understand what’s coming up with iOS 7 and how to implement the changes.
Think about it: coming this fall, most iPhone users will have a brand new iOS on their phone and will get used to it and its interface. They’ll get used to the design, to the way they interact with the built-in apps.
And the early adopters will be (already are?) looking for apps that feel the same.
It’s a great opportunity to develop new apps: ones that will have a refreshing look and might just be able to compete with players that won’t be moving fast enough.
Of course, it also means some challenges for apps already on the store, that might now look outdated. It will be interesting to see how each app evolves and who’s left behind.
Want to play around to see what your current or future apps will look like? Here’s a handy iOS 7 GUI PSD.
Use the iOS 7 APIs
1,500 APIs have been added to Apple’s SDK.
From Airdrop to 60-fps Video Capture and Inter-app audio, there’s a lot to explore.
Same here, take a look and try to find how all those APIs could make your app better or help you acquire new customers. For example, Ian from MobileDevHQ has already shared some neat ideas on what you could do with the Airdrop API.
Opportunities for game developers
The game center not looking like a pool table is not the only new thing.
Within all those new APIs it seems that we’re also going to see game controllers, made specifically for iOS, emerge.
And a new game framework, with what should be an easier implementation of turn-based gaming.
Some more opportunities and innovations to come up with!
The iOS 7 App Store
I love the idea of automatic updates that’s being introduced in iOS 7.
I’ve liked that on Android, and I’m glad it’s coming to iOS too.
This will probably allow developers to update their apps more frequently, and know that most of their customers will be using the latest version of their app.
For users, this means no more delaying all those updates.
I also see some potential problems there though: apps that change too much because devs are basically testing/experimenting, or users not really knowing anymore what’s in the new updates because it just updates automatically (they can go to the app store and check it, but who will really do that?).
For the former, I think that Apple reviewers will keep an eye out for crazy updates/testers.
For the latter, I believe more and more app developers will/should explain at the opening of the app, after an update, what are the changes that have been done and the new features. It can be done with a single screen, several ones, or even a short video. They should also communicate more about their updates outside of the store: mailing-list, blog, social media, etc. Let your users know that you keep on improving your app!
Near me & no more Genius.
I never used Genius anyway. I tried it when it came out, because I was curious about the changes in the iOS 6 App Store. And I wasn’t really happy with the results, as it kept offering apps I didn’t really care about and made for a poor app discovery feature.
It’s been replaced with Near Me, that shows the popular apps near you.
Near Me is not the app discovery feature everybody was waiting to see in iOS 7.
I’m assuming that it will be some kind of “local top chart”, based on users’ locations, where the most downloaded apps will be featured.
It could help app developers and startups that target a specific city or region get some exposure for their apps, though. Which is really difficult right now, whether you’re offering a service (for apps like Maid, TaskRabbit, Ride-share apps, etc.) or content (travel apps, etc.).
Depending on how it is implemented, it could also give interesting opportunities for real life marketing: if you manage to get enough people in a specific city to download and use your app, you could get some exposure in the App Store.
With iOS 7, users will be able to add paid apps to their wish list. The button to access it is here on each of the App Store screen, from the Top charts to the app screens.
It might not be a game changer but I like the idea.
If your app is found once (on the web, on the store, from a recommendation), it increases the chances that your app be actually downloaded one day instead of just being forgotten. It’s a good way for users to go back to the apps they selected and make their choice, or just make their selection and download the app once they have Wi-Fi.
It would be nice to be able to share those wish lists.
And it would be great for app developers and marketers to display a button that would let users add apps to their wishlists with a single tap, either within an app or on a website.
The curated Kids category of the iOS 7 App Store that Apple introduced with iOS 7 App Store is good if you target a specific age range of users (and their parents).
Search for purchased apps
I like that you can now search for the apps you purchased in the iOS app store. If you downloaded an app once, you can now find it easily or download it on another device.
Top charts view
With iOS 6, I was a bit annoyed by how the top results were displayed on iPhones : users had to scroll horizontally and could see fewer results.
In iOS 7, we’re back again to a list of apps with tabs for Paid/Free/Top Grossing apps you can now scroll all the way down to number 300 without having to tap on “load more”. That means more exposure if your apps are somewhere in there.
Small changes in search results
The iOS 7 App Store still has the Card-like search results that were introduced in iOS 6.
Two small changes I noticed is that on the iPhone the number of results is now appearing in the search bar and there is no numbering of each app.
Also, the number of characters displayed for the app title seems to be smaller than in the iOS 6 App Store.
Small changes in app store details screen
The app icon now takes up more screen space on the app, which also means that users see a bit less of the app’s screenshots. Especially on iPhone 4S and under.
The UDID is no more. And now, apps can no longer retrieve the device’s MAC address neither (which is probably a good thing).
Advertisers don’t really have any choice now: they need to turn to the IDFA (Identifier For Advertising), which can be deactivated or reset by users.
Are some developers being crossed out by Apple and iOS 7?
With the new built-in features, and the redesigned apps, Apple is probably harming several developers.
Because there was a gap in what you were able to do with the built-in features, app developers and startups had come up with innovative ways to do things.
Some of them became pretty successful.
It’s understandable that those companies be a little pissed off when Apple comes in and implement UI/UX changes and features inspired by all their apps straight into iOS 7.
Need a few examples?
- Bump -> Airdrop
- Flayvr -> Photos
- Mailbox -> Mail
- Pandora -> iTunes Radio
- Audiobus -> Inter-app audio
- 1Password -> iCloud Keychain
- Flashlight apps
Obviously, they did not copy everything and those apps will still have their advantages.
Most of those startups and app developers will know how to innovate and will surely find things to stay ahead of the game by the time iOS 7 comes public. And that’s probably the only way they can stay relevant.
Are some users being left out with iOS 7?
iOS 7 will be compatible with iPhone 4 and above, and iPad 2 and above.
This of course that many iPhone users will be left out. But most likely, the customers that don’t renew their phones are not the ones that use their devices or download apps the most.
So it’s probably better to turn your eyes to the future. Still, it will be interesting to follow the adopting rate of iOS 7 when it comes out, considering how controversial it seems to be.
What’s wrong right now with iOS 7?
OK, so I’ve been talking about opportunities and how it could improve the experience of using your iPhone.
Know let me tell you what’s been wrong since I downloaded the iOS 7 beta on an iPhone 4S. From a user’s perspective.
- I have 2 iOS accounts, one in the US and one in France. Not sure if that’s the reason why, but some app icons just look like the app is waiting to be updated. The only way I can use them? Open the app store, search for the app and tap on Open.
- Some apps are just broken. Kik doesn’t open, search in Sparrow is all messed up.
- Battery seems to run out way faster.
- It crashes way more, and sometimes I just get the iPhone rebooting screen for a few seconds.
- The Popular near me feature of the App Store doesn’t show any apps, but I know that will come.
- It’s kinda slow. iPhone is super hot all the time.
It’s a beta, I know. And I’m hopeful there will be many improvements.
Part of the problems are on iOS 7’s side, and the other part will be the app developer’s responsability. Yes, yours. Whether you want it or not.
What do you think of iOS 7? What are the challenges you’re facing? Have you already started brainstorming on how it could help you improve your app, or market it? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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