Earlier this year, Apple used its Worldwide Developers Conference to announce an exciting new feature for iOS 16: Live Activities. These interactive push notifications are designed to give users convenient real-time updates from their Lock Screen without opening an app.

Uber, for example, will allow iOS users to track vehicles as they get closer, and sports brands can share live football results during matches. Several betas later and the tool is finally available to app developers and consumers, with Apple dropping an ActivityKit Framework to create and manage Live Activities and improve your app’s user experience.

Below, we’ll put together some of the benefits of Live Activities and explain their use cases.


Are Live Activities a Widget replacement?

One of the biggest questions you might be asking about Live Activities is whether or not they serve as a replacement for Widgets, which were introduced in iOS 14. The good news is that the two can work hand in hand and serve slightly different purposes.

Live Activities are only available on the Lock Screen and are designed for limited-time periods: you can’t create a Live Activity to sit on the Lock Screen permanently; it must be for a short time only.

Apple says Live Activities are perfect for sports scores, delivery statuses, and real-time transactional updates. Widgets, on the other hand, live on the Home Screen permanently and don’t have to be associated with an event.

Widgets don’t require as much management but can’t be updated as quickly as a Live Activity, so depending on the nature of your business, you might find that your users could benefit from Widgets and Live Activities.


Improving your app’s user experience

Live Activities offer developers and businesses the chance to share real-time information and updates after users exit their apps.

If you run a food delivery service, for example, you might send users a push notification with an update on their order – ‘Your pizza has left the kitchen,’ for example. You might follow this up with a couple more notifications, such as ‘Your delivery driver is ten stops away,’ or ‘Your driver is outside – come and collect your food.’

Sending users too many notifications could be overwhelming and encourage them to disengage with your app, even during a time-critical period. Live Activities, on the other hand, allow you to offer an interactive notification for the duration of an event, creating a much cleaner, more intuitive experience. It reduces the number of time-sensitive notifications required and ensures important information is easily accessible from the Lock Screen.

Although the most obvious use cases involve deliveries and sporting events, there are many use cases to consider – and more will pop up as the Live Activities feature is further refined by Apple and used by developers. From live updates on cryptocurrencies and investments to gaming apps showcasing live events and live streams, there are endless opportunities.


Important tidbits on Live Activities

As Live Activities have only just been released as part of the iOS 16.1 update, we thought we’d share some important information on how they work and how users can access them.

  • Users must be opted into push notifications to receive Live Activities from your app.
  • Live Activities can’t be launched in the background: users must first have the app open for the Live Activity to initiate during a live event or tracking opportunity.
  • One app can have multiple Live Activities with unique interfaces and content, and these Live Activities can run at the same time. For example, if a user is tracking two different deliveries to two different addresses, each can have its own Live Activity.
  • Developers can’t add interactive content such as buttons to Live Activities, but it is possible to add an image from a URL, allowing for some customisation and flexibility.


Getting started with Live Activities

When Apple introduces new technologies like Live Activities, developers rush to implement them to be at the front of the queue when customers want to experiment. This feature is no exception, and developers can get started using the new ActivityKit Library on Apple.com. But before you implement Live Activities, it’s worth answering the following questions:

  • Why does my app need to support Live Activities?
  • What problems will my app solve by incorporating Live Activities?
  • How can I replicate Live Activities-style tracking on Android and the web?


If you’re looking for support with Live Activities on iOS, reach out to the software development experts at Zudu today at 01382 690080 for a free consultation. 

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