By Poojan Jhaveri

Every year product teams are super enthused to know what’s new in WWDC because they're eager to take advantage of how to increase retention or launch new products/features that could impact the users of 1.4Bn active devices around the world.

This year definitely lived up to expectations around Apple’s ecosystem and its vision of privacy and productivity.

Here’s a quick guide for navigating all of the uber-cool announcements from WWDC 2019 from a product manager perspective.

Product teams should start preparing for:

  • Privacy first
  • Customize around utility
  • Anywhere, anytime with watchOS6
  • Build for an ecosystem
  • Next-gen AR & ML

By the way, did you know that...

It will not be long before iOS 13 takes over this fall.

Privacy first

Apple has always been a strong proponent of user’s privacy and this WWDC they have taken the next step to extend the paradigm to apps and services, acting as a layer between the user and anyone that try to harvest data.

Single Sign-On - “Sign in with Apple” will allow users to authenticate or register within the apps by providing a tokenized or direct Apple ID. From a user perspective, this means not having to compromise their data for wanting to log in quickly. This will be required for any app that supports login using 3rd parties (Google, Facebook).

From a product strategy perspective, this means you’ll have to make explicit effort to get additional user data such as age, location, etc. On the flip side, reduced friction will lead to faster activations.

This combined with Apple Pay will be the UX of challenger brands on mobile.

Location privacy - Starting iOS 13, Apps can request for users’ location each time it is requested in addition to “always” and “while using.” Apple’s also blocking apps to infer location using Bluetooth and wifi.  This means that your location strategy and the UX around it will have to be revisited and taken advantage of especially from those users who have been less hesitant to sharing locational data.

Kids’ Data privacy - Apps in the kids' category will no longer be able to include 3rd party advertising or analytics software to send data. Product Managers will have to rely on user research more to understand app usage.

All in all, audit your apps for data privacy before it is too late.

Customize around utility

Users start building habits on features that Apple provides natively. And so, when a particular 3rd party app does not support it, it is seen as an app that is not outdated or worse - not delivering up to the users’ expectation.  

Dark Mode - There are two kinds - people who love dark mode and those who don’t. Regardless of the team you belong to, two biggest benefits of the dark mode are reduced eye strain at night and better contrast.

And with the possibility of auto switching during specific times, most apps and users will activate this. As a product manager, you must plan to take advantage of this and support dark mode for your app.

Core Haptics - Apps can now leverage a new customizable haptic engine to generate vibrations and audio. This can be used to reinforce action or get attention upon completion of core actions (eg. payment) or validations. Games can also use this framework to create advanced tactile games.

SwiftUI - With Xcode11, Apple introduced a new way of designing user interfaces for the app known as SwiftUI. SwiftUI will allow developers to preview their screen and write code at the same time.

As a product manager, you can take advantage of built-in functionality such as localization, accessibility support in addition to a productivity boost. On the other hand, this might call for some initial refactoring!

Begin by bringing your design and engineering teams together and planning for new design experience.

Anywhere, anytime with watchOS 6

Apple Watch is the best selling smart watch ever, but when it comes to utility, it fails to justify the real need. With watchOS 6, Apple has taken a huge leap to disconnect watchOS from iOS and expand its utility. Here’s how:

Independent Apps -  Developers can take advantage of frameworks and the hardware to build watchOS apps without needing an iOS companion app. WatchOS 6 also comes with App Store on the Watch so users can download apps anytime without needing their phone.

Audio Streaming - With Streaming API, apps can now directly stream audio to the watch using cellular or wifi. This had been limited only to Apple apps up until this point. With this feature, music, meditation, fitness apps will be able to include a live audio feed so as to be with the user wherever they go.

Extended Runtime - Currently, all watch apps (except for workout ones) become inactive after a specific period of time. With watchOS 6, Apps can now be designed for session-based use cases for alarm, self-care, physical therapy, mindfulness, and health monitoring.

It also opens up access to heart rate, motion, and location. As a PM for this category, you can now drive guided sessions or alert users on the watch.

Build for an ecosystem

User’s don’t think of multi-device journeys.

For them, it is about solving the use case as easily and quickly as possible.

With that in mind, here’s how we can take advantage of some of the new features to boost productivity:

iPadOS - Let’s face it - with an increase in iPhone sizes, iPad usage has changed a lot from being an iPhone with additional screen space to now being used as a functioning computer.

This year, Apple separated its OS for iPad as iPadOS directed for more multitasking use. iPadOS supports external drives, multiple windows, split view, and drag and drop gestures.

With this change, the more important question to ask is - Do you still need an iPad App and if so - how will it piece into the ecosystem along with iPhone & Desktop?

Bring your iPad apps to Mac - With project Catalyst, Apple will now allow iOS Apps to be ported over as MacOS apps. This means that the same code can be reused and modified across for iOS & macOS. Not everyone needs a macOS app though.

Here’s how you can decide on it:

  • Does your app function on its core use without requiring mobile hardware capabilities?
  • Does your app need to notify users and has a heavy daily engagement on the web?

If the answer to all these questions is yes, then you should reach out to your team about extending your iPad app.

NextGen: AR + ML

While not a lot has changed here in consumer usage, Apple continues to advance AR capabilities for games and enterprise usage before it is ready for Apple wearable glass.

Here are the features that you might want to take advantage of:

ARKit 3 - ARKit now supports real-time occlusion of people and objects in the environment. With this newly gained knowledge of people and their position in the virtual world, it will also be able to support Motion Capture, which is tracking and using body movement as input for AR. This can be leveraged in health or fitness apps to guide users through a session.

On the machine learning front:

Core ML 3 - For the first time, app developers will be able to take advantage of on-device machine learning and NLP across the watch, iPad and iPhone.  This means that the models can be updated with user-data to prepare a more personalized model all on the device. For example, it can be used for surfacing features or content around user’s usage over time.

VisionKit: Apple opens up its document scanning framework for all 3rd party apps. In addition, it can also provide detecting text from images and a heatmap of all areas of the image that the user might focus their attention on.

Brainstorm with your team to take advantage of Machine Learning for your app.

Bring this to life.

When should you start planning? Now.

iOS, iPadOS & WatchOS Developer Betas will be available in July with public release later in the fall (somewhere around Sept).

Let’s connect on how we can help you bring your ideas to life and get first-mover advantage before September.

Learn how we helped Staples become the world’s first Apple Pay retail integration.