During June’s virtual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple lifted the lid on the next version of its iOS operating system.
Alongside a redesigned home screen, new Translate app, and an improved Siri, the company also announced App Clips – a new way for users to interact with third-party apps without actually having to download them onto their phones.
This week, we’re taking a closer look at the new feature, and offering some tips on how you can best utilise iOS App Clips to drive more sales and engagements for your business…
What is an App Clip?
Before we delve deeper into App Clips, here’s a brief introduction. Although the App Store is home to more than two million applications, there are sometimes occasions when you might need an app at a moment’s notice – like when paying for parking at a car park or loaning a bike in the city centre. App Clips allow you to access important functionality there and then.
Rather than having to download an entire app, an App Clip offers access to a small part of an app that is focused on a specific task or end goal. For example, you might launch an App Clip when you’re in a coffee shop to pay for your drink, or in a museum to reserve a book.
These new App Clips are small – averaging around 10MB – and launch within seconds at the bottom of an iPhone or iPad. This removes the friction of having to launch the App Store, find the app, type in your iCloud information, wait for the app to download, and then navigate the app to find the feature or functionality you wanted to use. This can take several minutes.
App Clips can be launched via App Clip codes, QR codes, or NFC tags, which can be scanned with the iPhone camera. They can also be launched from apps like Messages, Maps, and Safari, so users don’t need to physically find an App Clip code to interact with content. Once you launch the app, it’ll appear at the bottom of your iPhone, and you can “Open” the app. It’s also possible to use Apple Pay via App Clips, so you don’t need to sign up for an account or enter your personal information like credit card number or address.
In cases where an account needs to be made, Sign in with Apple – the company’s alternative to Facebook and Google authentication – can be used, making App Clips quick and secure.
Should I create an App Clip for my iOS app?
Before you jump on the bandwagon and create an App Clip for your business, you should assess whether there’s a genuine use case for doing so. We’ve put together a few questions to ask – these should help you determine whether users would find value in an App Clip:
- Are there times when users need to launch your app quickly for a specific purpose?
- Can users make transactions within your app for physical goods/services?
- Does your app serve multiple purposes? Would a clip speed up the process?
- Would an App Clip make your full iOS app package redundant?
The key here is to assess whether an App Clip would genuinely add value to your users’ everyday lives. Google has offered a similar service for a few years called Instant Apps, but they’ve yet to attract widespread adoption. In China, on the other hand, WeChat offers Mini Programs which sit inside of the WeChat ecosystem. There are now more than one million Mini Programs on the platform covering 200 categories, serving 200 million daily users.
What is important to note is that technology adopted by Apple often receives more attention and interest than it does on Android. Though we can’t predict the future, we do expect that App Clips will be utilised by large organisations to speed up ordering process – for example, McDonald’s could offer an App Clip to help users enjoy table service in their restaurants.
We don’t know for certain which apps will offer App Clips when iOS 14 launches, but Apple identified a number of specific use cases, including parking apps, coffee shops, and scooter rental, and we saw Spin, Etsy, Drop Recipes, and Park Whiz have already built App Clips.
What are the drawbacks of App Clips?
Although App Clips will no doubt prove to be successful in the months and years ahead, you should also take into account the drawbacks of integrating them into your platform. One of the biggest is that transactions are kept inside of the Apple Pay ecosystem, so it’s harder for you to collect data on users or encourage them to sign up for an account or loyalty scheme.
App Clips are also exclusive to iOS – though Android Instant Apps offer similar functionality, you could potentially limit your audience to only iPhone users if you added an App Clip QR code or NFC console in your museum, retail store, or restaurant. Make sure that you back up the iOS experience with a similar Android experience, even if that’s within your own app.
Finally, App Clips discourage consumers from downloading your full application. If you’re only concerned about generating revenue and speeding up transactions, App Clips are fine, but if you value repeat customers, in-app purchases, and the ability to send notifications via iOS apps, App Clips are limited – and they disappear from smartphones after eight hours.
Of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t use them. Provided you offer a great service within App Clips, users will want to download your full application for future purchases/use cases.
When will App Clips launch?
App developers can access the Xcode 12 beta and start building App Clips for iOS 14 today, but the full release isn’t scheduled until September when Apple will also unveil the next set of new iPhones. Backwards compatibility is strong with App Clips – iPhones released from September 2015 will be able to upgrade to iOS 14 when it’s launched. That includes the iPhone 6S, the new iPhone SE, and the most recent iPhone 11 family of smartphones.
Want to take advantage of new technology like App Clips for your business application? Let the app development experts at Zudu help – give us a call on 01382 690080 to find out more.