How to prepare for iPhone's fast-approaching iOS 11 update
The mobile operating system's latest refresh will include significant new opportunities in augmented reality, NFC marketing and voice engagements.
Scheduled to roll out this fall, iOS 11 could mean some changes for brands, their products and their marketing strategies.
IPhone users are known for quickly updating to the latest software and experimenting with new features. For example, more than two-thirds of the active iOS device install base installed iOS 10 within the first 27 days after it was released. This means savvy marketers should be thinking now about ways take advantage of new offerings like ARKit and an accessible NFC chip that could further customer engagement on the iPhone. Brands will also be able to use new payment options, including voice-controlled transactions.
Apple announced iOS 11 earlier in the summer and has said it will launch in the fall, with those enrolled in Apple's developer program able to download and test a working version now. Preparing for iOS 11 should involve research into AR, voice commands and geo-targeted marketing, along with a healthy dose of creativity. Below, Mobile Marketer digs into some of the biggest developments and what they mean for marketers.
The trailblazing ARKit
Probably one of the most significant new features revealed in the announcement of the new OS is ARKit. For marketers, ARKit is a developer tool that enables them to leverage the sensors and cameras on iOS 11 devices when they build augmented reality apps. With this SDK, Apple is encouraging developers and marketers to create and use AR content however they see fit.
To those who are unfamiliar, augmented reality allows for digital interfaces to be projected onto the real world. On a smartphone, this typically involves pointing the device’s camera at a real-world scene that has digital elements seamlessly integrated into it. AR is different from virtual reality, which places users into a new world via a headset.
Adam Fingerman, CXO and cofounder at app-development company ArcTouch, told Mobile Marketer that his company is especially looking forward to ARKit.
“There were a lot of great new features in iOS 11, but in particular, we think the introduction of ARKit is going to be a real boon for augmented reality,” said Fingerman. “It’ll make it much easier for brands to create compelling experiences for their customers that bridge the physical and digital worlds with hardware that people already own — the iPhone.”
While Facebook, Snapchat and Google have announced their own AR platforms, Fingerman feels ARKit will attract more brands because of Apple’s proven business model and the sheer number of users the App Store has.
“With App Store distribution and in-app purchases, it’s a much more attractive platform for brands and businesses looking to create augmented experiences,” said Fingerman.
Marketers can use AR technology to interact with their customers and potential customers in new ways.
For example, furniture manufacturer IKEA is planning to use ARKit to create an app that lets customers see how furniture will fit into their homes before they make a purchase in a richer and more accurate way than was previously possible with 3-D technology.
Fully redesigned App Store
One of the other cool new features in iOS 11 is the totally redesigned App Store, which features a card-based layout and splits games and apps into separate sections for the first time. This means every time a consumer flips through something in the store, it looks like a card.
The card design allows for easier access to apps and a quicker way for people to scan things, potentially driving discovery of new apps.
Already this year, Apple rolled out a new API that makes it easier to rate apps, driving up the number of app ratings by 15%, according to Apptentive, a development that could help some apps gain attention.
IOS 11 also offers the ability to give customers directions while indoors. Indoor mapping for Apple Maps will initially be available in malls and airports in eight cities around the world. This may seem small, but it could be a game-changer for businesses located in a large shopping center or mall as foot traffic could increase if more people know about, and can find, a store without the need of downloading a mall’s own app or finding a physical map.
Enhanced mobile payments
For the first time in iOS 11, developers will gain access to the NFC chip in iPhones, which previously was only available for enabling payments via Apple Pay.
The chip is responsible for handling wireless interactions with mobile payment devices. Opening it up to developers will enable them to build solutions for their customers that could include loyalty schemes and promotional activity.
Alan Hixon, chief development officer for the California food chain Yalla Mediterranean, told Mobile Marketer that he has high hopes for the new iOS update.
“Our apps currently allow any customer to scan their phone at our registers to pay, and we’re excited to see what kinds of new usability options open up with iOS 11,” said Hixon. “Apple’s NFC chip could give us new ways to offer promotions to our customers or people who just happen to be near one of our restaurants.”
Yalla currently offers $5 off orders to first-time app users. Hixon imagines leveraging the new NFC option to reach a wider array of potential new customers.
“Wouldn’t it be neat if we could send that discount opportunity out to people walking by on the street,” Hixon said. “Being located in California, we certainly have plenty of competition from other fresh and local restaurants. The iOS 11 update has lots of potential for us, and I’m sure many other businesses like us, to stand out from the crowd.”
Apple has also announced an update to Siri that will allow users to complete transactions using voice controls.
“Supporting SiriKit should be a high priority for app developers as voice grows in importance."
CXO and cofounder, ArcTouch
SiriKit is likely to have the biggest impact on how ArcTouch develops apps, according to Fingerman.
“Supporting SiriKit should be a high priority for app developers as voice grows in importance,” he said, noting that voice is quickly becoming one of the most important interfaces in the digital world, thanks to the popularity of voice assistant gadgets like Google Home and Amazon Echo.
While Apple is regularly denounced for having lost some of its earlier innovativeness, the company still has a reputation for bringing mass appeal to cutting-edge technology through industry-leading design and customer experiences. Coupled with the fact that the iPhone’s user base in the U.S. is around 136 million and it’s clear why marketers should start preparing now for some of the new features of iOS 11 by researching AR, voice commands and geo-targeted marketing and putting their thinking caps on as to how their customers might benefit from them.