Monday's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) found Apple announcing a raft of updates set to overhaul the entire app economy. From MacOS and Apple Watch to iMessages, the changes Apple is planning opens up an entire new world for developers.
The question is though, what do these changes mean for the app economy as a whole?
1) One app to rule them all
It’s been rumoured for a while that Apple plans to create a universal operating system and with macOS, the new name and format of computer systems, is the first step to it becoming a reality. The reason for this is simple: continuity. Eventually, Apple wants a seamless experience across all of its devices.
For developers, this is an opportunity to create apps that span multiple devices easier. Imagine being able to copy a text on your phone and then paste it seamlessly on your tablet or computer. While this might create some initial technical challenges, it will have the benefit of allowing a much closer connection with the consumer, making apps even more integral to people’s lives. This will also ensure there is a more consistent user experience across devices, driving increased engagement, something vital in the modern market.
2) Message in a bottle
One of the most exciting updates is Apple’s focus on iMessage. The company announced a host of new features, from in-app Apple Music play to an “invisible ink” function. Still, most important is the fact that, like Facebook Messenger, third-party developers can now create for it.
This is one of the next steps in apps’ journey as different services start to intertwine. While some might view this as a further consolidation of the market, instead it will be another avenue to reach the customer. Incorporating minimal elements of apps into something like iMessage will not only help raise awareness of a product, but can actually work with and complement full versions of the software.
Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant, got a lot of attention at this year’s WWDC. Not only is Apple bringing the tool to Macs, developers will now be able to incorporate it into their own iOS apps. This is a massive step forward. Siri is an incredibly powerful tool and, if used correctly, will revolutionise how people interact with apps. Imagine humming a song and hearing it on Spotify. Think about describing an episode of a show and Netflix playing it for you. And this would just be the beginning.
The fact is, this is occurring already. Apps are already crossing over into one another, just consider how integral Google Maps is to a gamut of software. Alongside this, Facebook Messenger is already taking heed of this message, with its focus on becoming an app platform by creating an infrastructure where external software is incorporated without the need to leave the app itself, in turn becoming a one-stop location for users.
This all ties back to Siri’s increased availability to developers. Having a powerful voice command feature would introduce a whole new way of interacting within apps, opening up a new world for developers that will improve customer engagement.
4) Which widget is it?
For a long time, the lock and home screen of iOS devices has been dead space. Unless you wanted to know the time, there was not much there. This is going to change. Developers will now be able to connect their apps with the lock screen, giving their programmes greater visibility than ever before. Being able to display information in this manner will allow developers to alter their approach to creation, as there will be another way to interact with the customer.
5) Taking control
Apps have become extensions of ourselves. The ones we use and the way we organise them reflect our interests and our personalities. For a long time though, we have been stuck with Apple’s default applications. For example, the Stocks app might be useful if you own stocks, but for the large majority of people, it is a distraction, something that’s taking up valuable space on your phone. Now? You can take full control of your device, something that is integral to the sector.
This year’s WWDC saw some of the most exciting app-based announcements in recent years. The app economy is ever-moving and, with these changes, Apple is ensuring it remains at the forefront of innovation, which is a good thing for developers and the public.
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