Apple’s launching event today mostly focused on the release of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, with some minor updates concerning their signature smartwatch, improved GPS location services, water resistant devices and better screen quality. Additionally, the release of Bluetooth headphones and earbuds was notable — not for its originality but because Apple is known for setting the standard for future consumer behavior, and what their competitors do as well.
In this article we will quickly review what’s new, as well as how it will impact your business. We will specifically focus on the release of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, their Bluetooth devices, and the new microprocessor embedded in iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
We will also help summarize what each company needs to do to be on top of the (mobile) game given what Apple has announced today about these 3 critical enhancements and the way that they will directly impact the bottom line.
One thing that is notable after today’s event is that the new releases’ benefits for business are not as obvious as when Apple released their iPhone SE earlier this year. Still, we would argue that iPhone 7, and especially iPhone 7 Plus, are far more impactful in the long term for business than iPhone SE. Here’s how.
Better iPhone 7/ 7 Plus Camera = Better Business Opportunities
The biggest news around the iPhone 7 release is the fact that the company has transformed their native camera into the single best camera ever produced for a smartphone, of any kind.
In fact, it’s probably as close to a professional camera as anything we will see. For a long time.
The camera features a new 12 megapixel sensor that is 60 percent faster (allowing customers to take high speed shots which are not blurry) and more efficient than ever before. Its new processing chip will enable 50% more light (better pictures in low light environments). Even the front camera on the iPhone 7 has been upgraded to 7 pixels, with new automatic image stabilization allowing for better selfie pictures.
The iPhone 7 Plus was given even more amazing upgrades, including a dual camera system with 2x optical zoom which will prevent picture quality loss on zoom (unparalleled in the smartphone industry!), all without any loss in image quality (wow!). One of the cameras will support wide angle shots, while the other boasts a 60mm lens. The new setup will allow for greater shallow-depth pictures like the one shown below.
So … amazing camera all around, that has stunned even professional photographers.
From a business perspective, this is in many ways the Holy Grail. Any small business out there can entice users to take and post pictures through social media or directly to the business in exchange for various perks…. pictures which a small business can in turn use for marketing purposes.
Skeptics can argue that this was already possible with earlier models - think Google Maps and their collection of user generated images. This is true. But with iPhone 7 Plus, Apple has made it more likely for users to (accidentally) take professional pictures.
In the future, small businesses will no longer need professional photographers to take pictures for all of their marketing collateral. They can either do it themselves, using the new phone, or simply crowdsource the task to their existing customers.
The best example of this application was shown today, as an Instagram executive showed live how the new phone dramatically improves the quality of pictures to be posted on Instagram.
With the launch of the new camera, more mobile businesses should look into adding credit card scanning functionality to their mobile apps. Customers are notorious about either not giving away their credit card information or abandoning apps when asked to enter their credit card numbers. Where credit card scanning options have been around for a while, they’ve rarely worked. The same is true of scanning barcodes with your phone. The new camera’s sensors will significantly improve accuracy in scanning a credit card, and as such, businesses should see an increase in conversion for customers using iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus.
Bluetooth AirPods Headsets and the Future of Hands-free App Interactions
Apple announced the launch of a line of hands-free AirPods. Of course, they had to do this, because the company removed the headphone jack from their new design. As such, offering wireless headphones is a problem that Apple created for themselves. While an adapter is included in the new phone’s box to allow customers to use their old headphones, we all know that Apple users who have 700 to 900 dollars will likely move away from the old headphones as the following Twitter user humorously observed:
Bluetooth headsets have existed for many years now, but from a consumer point of view there was never a need to seriously consider buying one. This has been true with the exception of the convenience offered by cordless headsets. Apple is now setting a trend and creating a market in which wireless headsets are no longer just “nice to have,” but are becoming more of a necessity. The AirPods and its many copies (past or future) will really set the stage for wireless earbuds.
The new headsets from Apple – selling at the steep price of $159 - include a microphone that doubles down as a Bluetooth device. It’s another product category that this new product is threatening, and a new wireless connection which will allow customers to switch between devices with ease (or so Apple claims).
These headsets won’t be available to order until late October, but we can start thinking of them as specific business applications now. Apple has already opened Siri up to third party developers (at the recent WWDC 2016 event, which we covered previously). Many developers are trying to find creative ways to leverage this opportunity. Until the launch of the AirPods, there hasn’t been a great reason for developers to integrate with Siri. It has fallen into the nice-to-have category of integrations rather than the must haves.
With the new AirPods, Apple has set another trend that we will soon see become the norm in years to come. With the built-in microphone in place, an Apple user can not only speak to other people, but can also summon Siri and speak through apps. Think Alexa, but in a portable mobile format.
This opens up tremendous opportunities for any on-demand business out there, including Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, SpotHero (parking), DogVacay, and more, with a lot more businesses to follow. I can totally see myself ordering a Starbucks coffee while walking from the train to the office without ever pulling my phone out of my pocket.
In short, the wireless technology that Apple has revealed today is a huge step towards allowing businesses to leverage Siri commands – both current and future – in a way that will change the very nature of how we interact with our mobile applications. That is big news indeed!
Significant Performance Improvements in iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Will Put Added Pressure on User Expectations Regarding the Speed and Responsiveness of Mobile Apps
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, mentioned in passing that the new generation iPhones will include a faster internal processor, longer battery, and increased software and hardware performance.
This is not as sexy as the camera and the wireless headsets, but it does have a direct impact on business’ bottom line. App performance continues to be a big deal for most consumers. Apple has been making headway towards fixing this issue, year over year.
The two signature iPhones will features the Apple A10 Fusion microprocessor, which the Johny Srouji, Apple's Senior Vice President of Hardware Technologies called “a rocket ship.” It will make the phone 40% faster than the iPhone 6/6Plus and twice as fast as iPhone 5, or as the presenter smartly pointed out, will make the iPhone 7 Plus 120 times faster than the original iPhone.
Let's pause for a second. 120 times faster than the first generation iPhone as this graph illustrates.
It goes without saying that the faster processor will create higher expectations from users. It will create one simple expectation: that mobile apps, sites, and games will act, react and behave as fast as the rest of the phone.
This is of great importance for companies big and small that want to remain relevant in the years to come. Creating applications that perform as well as the phones that Apple has released is not a nice-to-have. It is an imperative.
In particular, companies should assess their markets and seriously consider building native applications. By its very design, a native app is faster and more reliable. As users navigate a native mobile app, the contents, structure, and visual elements are already on their phone, available for instant loading and thereby providing a seamless experience.
Apple’s serious foray into creating the best performing phone we have ever seen is really putting any company that’s out there competing against them on the spot. Each mobile application will likely need to be optimized to improve the overall page load time and speed in order to keep their audience engaged and to differentiate itself from the competition.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus launch may not be as glamorous as some analysts and consumers might have wanted, but its achievements are notable nonetheless. As we have outlined in this article, there are 3 key announcements that will impact businesses:
1) The launch of the iPhone camera opens up the possibility of crowdsourcing the responsibility for taking photographs to your customers, who will be able to take professional pictures with the best camera phone ever built.
2) The new wireless technology that Apple launched as a companion to iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will open a path to touchless apps, where customers can simply summon Siri via their AirPod headsets and “talk” to their apps.
3) The new performance improvements released today mean that companies with a mobile presence will need to seriously revamp their mobile app performance, or risk losing customers due to poor performance.
Overall, this year’s Apple event was really good. Next year will be even better. Is your business ready to keep up with the Apple times?