By Poojan Jhaveri, Product Manager, YML

For most of 2020, uncertainty has been the status quo, but Apple's WWDC event and introduction of iOS14 was a cathartic and dynamic reprieve. Apple recognized the tangible changes to our daily lives in this still relatively new Covid-19 world, especially with regard to consumer behavior — how people access necessities on demand, behave socially, and perceive of the importance of health over anything else. 

Despite this ominous backdrop, WWDC 2020 — and iOS 14 in particular — did not disappoint.

The new iOS is impactful, packed with an array of special features, from the redesigned home screen, app library, threaded messages, picture-in-picture video to more meme-ojis and reduced friction for phone-call notifications. The common thread of these changes revolves around bringing context to the users in a more personal, easy, and private form.

And it will not be long before iOS 14 takes over this fall.

To meet the users where they are, here are the key features that product teams can leverage with iOS14:

  • Acquisition & Activation using App Clips
  • Retention using Widgets & Picture to Picture

1. Acquisition and activation using App Clips

Downloading an app is not seamless. It can be full of friction and additional overhead, often causing less frequent use.

According to TechCrunch, more than 51% of users download 0 apps per month. 

App Clips are Apple’s answer to solving this problem, allowing users to complete a specific task without downloading an app - similar to Google’s Instant apps. App Clips are light-weight, easy-to-use extensions of the app that can be invoked by users in the moments that they need them. For example, check out the menu below at a cafe.

Apple has given you a way to essentially taste an ice cream flavor before buying it. 

Why should you leverage this? Speed!

More streamlined experiences will enable users to get things done within seconds instead of minutes, thus allowing for lesser distractions and a more focused customer journey. By combining it with features like  ‘Sign In with Apple’ & ‘Apple Pay’, a five-step checkout process can easily be simplified down to two clicks. On the onboarding side, measuring time to first value will also improve drastically since the acquisition is tightly integrated with the user’s intent at the moment. 

If done correctly, overall app downloads might decrease, but the conversion and activations — which is the sweet spot every marketer values — will increase from those downloads. 

Next step for product marketers: Start with identifying and aligning the team on the core-action that the user must take to get value out of the app. 

2. Retention using widgets on the home screen

Let’s face it — just having the user download the app is not enough. Downloads are a long-forgotten vanity metric. In fact, 25% of apps downloaded around the world are only ever used once.

In iOS14, Apple has designed widgets to be part of the user’s Home screen, right along side apps. These widgets help the user by introducing both context and action, rather than forcing the user to look for it. These widgets can be customized for sizes as well, based on device intelligence available from Apple to surface the right content at the right time. 

Why should you leverage this? Exploration based on the content of these widgets will largely impact the retention & engagement of the apps that take advantage of these widgets. These widgets allow for a discovery component that might not have brought in traffic previously. 

Next step: Identify the most frequented actions that users take in the app for consumption and plan for a widget around it. 

Some ideas to get you started:

IndustryApp ClipsWidgets
RetailBrowse through available inventory, compare prices based on items and and drive salesN/A
RestaurantsGet quick access to a menu from an NFC chip on the table and be able to order & pay.N/A
Banking- View loans, CD & Mortgage rates at a retail bank. 
- Navigate the services available at a nearest bank location and schedule an appointment. 
- Use widget to jump to most frequented money movement sections of the app such as - Transfers, deposits etc. 
- Use widget to see the percentage change in one's investment portfolio. 
EcommerceShow catalog for any merchant and be able to directly add to cart.Browse the top deals of the week. 
HealthN/ASee my alerts/messages.
MediaSave an article for later. See the top trending articles.

3. Being transparent about data & privacy

Lastly,  be sure to provide your users with the transparency that they deserve around data asks. The last thing you would want is the user to churn out because of unfair data practices.

Apple has always been a strong proponent of user privacy and in iOS14 they have added a variety of features to bolster user safety and confidence, which are critical to including for mobile apps and products in the future.

  1. Consent - Apps will now require your consent before tracking users across apps and services. 
  2. Privacy information on the App Store - Apps will now be required to self-report information about their data handling on the App Store so that users can read through and make an informed decision of the permissions around app use. 
  3. Limited access - Apps need to allow users to allow access for approximate location rather than a precise location to avail location benefits. Similarly, starting iOS14, users can choose to provide limited access to selected photos to the app rather than giving access to the entire photo library. 
  4. Recording Indicator - iOS14 will now display a recording indicator whenever an app is using the Mic or the Camera.

Next Step: Connect with legal and data teams to plan an update around this. These will be mandatory and not providing these might create an obstacle for you from uploading an app for iOS14. 

Let’s bring this to life

When should you start planning? The answer is now.

iOS, iPadOS & WatchOS Developer Betas are available starting today with public release later in the fall (around September 2020).

Connect with YML on how we can help you bring your ideas to life and get first-mover advantage before September.

And check out our case studies with State Farm, The Home Depot, Universal Music Group and more to see the impact we're making for brands across technology, design and strategy.


About the author: Poojan Jhaveri

Poojan is YML's product manager where he has been bringing digital experiences to life for brands across retail, fintech, grocery and a variety of other industries. As a motivated self-starter, he strongly believes in creating innovative products and services that help people express themselves through technology. His passion lies in the execution and optimization of user journeys across devices. Prior to YML, Poojan served as a digital product strategist at IDEO applying product and design thinking for projects ranging from finance, augmented reality, entertainment, kids apps to multi-device systems. His work has been featured by Apple, TechCrunch, Parents Choice Awards, FastCo, and other media outlets.