Apple's press conference a few days ago is something that many pundits dubbed predictable (http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-apple-iphone-ipad-live-updates-20160321-htmlstory.html), but there were quite a few announcements that have a direct impact on companies with a mobile presence on the iOS platform.
In this article we will quickly go over what's new and how it will impact your business. We will specifically focus on the release of iPhone 4 SE and the iOS 9.3 upgrade. We will also help summarize what each company needs to do to be on top of the (mobile) game.
New 4 inch display iPhone dubbed iPhone SE
"Small is bigger" is the motto Apple is clearly following. Whereas not a complete surprise, Apple announced their new iPhone SE – a 4 inch phone that customers can start ordering immediately. Additionally, Apple surprised everyone by making the base configuration available at only $399, Apple's lowest price ever.
What this means for businesses with a mobile presence:
1. The price point of this new iPhone is clearly Apple's attempt to compete in an Android led market.
Whereas this is great for Apple (more sales), it does muddy the waters for current mobile businesses. Why? Apple has traditionally attracted a clientele that spends considerably more money on their phones than their Android counterparts.
While Apple only controls 42% of the US market it brings in 80% more revenue than Android (source: https://ymedialabs.com/should-you-develop-your-mobile-app-for-ios-or-android-this-is-how-to-make-the-decision/) With the emergence of the cheapest Apple phone ever we should expect various metrics to change as a result of shifting the paradigm of who can afford an iPhone.
In other words, expected revenue per iOS user may decrease significantly over the next year which will impact your own projections on expected sales and long term value of a user. On the bright side, you may be able to attract more users as a result of this affordable iPhone.
2. The small screen size will need to become a priority for developers / designers / user experience architects
Since 2014, the average screen size for a smartphone around the US has been 5 inches or more (source: https://medium.com/@somospostpc/a-comprehensive-look-at-smartphone-screen-size-statistics-and-trends-e61d77001ebe#.cj02wre1u). In a way, Apple is swimming against the currents by investing in a smaller screen size than what the majority of people use.
This will impact your business directly because now the 4 inch screen will need to become your baseline for both UX/design. This will pose a significant amount of challenges on how information is displayed and how users interact with an app.
Given the recent adjustment I advise every company to do a thorough analysis of their application on a 4 inch screen. Most companies already support this screen size but the real question is: are you providing an exceptional experience? If this screen size will become the norm for Apple products, "just good enough" won't cut it. You need your company to provide a stellar experience on iPhone SE.
This is the time to brush up on best design practices for various form factors. We have published an article that will give you access to the best design blogs in the industry to get you started. (source: https://ymedialabs.com/ultimate-mobile-design-trends-2016/)
3. App performance needs to be revisited
Apple made a bold statement: they claimed iPhone SE will be as fast as Apple 6 and significantly faster than all the older models given the new A9 chip core. As users get used to the new experience and system performance you need to ensure that your own application is up to par. App performance issues represent one of the biggest complains users make in general.
But what Apple is doing is changing the rules of the game by making their phones significantly faster. And unless your app matches this changing trend in terms of overall system performance, you will see an uptick in terms of bad app reviews and a drop in app usage over the next year. Apple changed the rules of the game. Now you need to adapt to the new reality by analyzing your app' performance and fine-tuning it.
4. Touch ID authentication is the new norm
Apple made it very clear that iPhone SE will come with touch authentication – one of the most celebrated features across the board for newer Apple models. If you haven't done it already, when you require user authentication on the app you need to start supporting touch ID authentication. This is another norm established by Apple that is here to stay and Apple users will expect you to support this functionality. Even the Apple Notes app is getting this new functionality enabled. So should your app!
iOS 9.3 was released
The other important news coming out of the press conference is the fact that Apple is releasing a new version of their iOS dubbed "iOS 9.3". This impacts most of the iPhones currently in usage and it impacts businesses directly as well.
What this means for businesses with a mobile presence:
1. Night Shift is here
Apple announced the launch of Night Shift – the ability for the phone's brightness to adjust automatically based on the time of day. The benefit to the user is that as the color temperature of the screen changes, the customer can go to sleep faster.
With the overwhelming majority of smartphone users accessing apps and mobile websites right before going to sleep this is a critical upgrade from a business point of view. Why? Is your app or mobile website using various tones of blue or other colors that will be impacted as the iPhone's screen gradually dims? If so, you need to rethink your design colors and palates. Otherwise, your app's color scheme will frustrate users trying to use it before going to bed.
With the new upgrade, the Apple News app will feature native ads in a format in which ads resemble articles. This becomes a new funnel through which you can effectively market your application to iOS users to attract new customer to your own mobile application. Mobile marketers should certainly explore the new functionality and learn how to use is as a vehicle for user acquisition given the ever growing popularity of this Apple native app.
3. 3D touch features on iOS 9.3 are being updated
3D touch has already been available in iPhone 6s and 6s+ but with iOS 9.3, Apple is trying to make the functionality even more appealing and easy to use. 3D touch is when a user performs a hard press on an app icon. A soft press will launch an app. A hard press will allow the user to choose between various Quick Actions – a short menu list that the user can choose from.
If you haven't already implemented this quick menu – you should. It gets the user quicker to completing the 1 or 2 tasks that your app is designed for. As Apple continues to update 3D touch functionality, using this feature will become more of a common practice and something users expect to see.