Well, it's that time of year again. Apple releases a new arsenal of software and we're all sitting here pulling our hair out, smashing the keys on our keyboards as we unload on the various social networks.
Isn't it fun being in the app business?
With the last iOS release, Apple dropped a pretty big bomb on all of us. iOS6 -> iOS7 was a monster, forcing us to update every app we had, replace ad networks, and fix Xcode builds.
It seems, however, that this update may be a little more developer friendly.
I wanted to write a time sensitive blog post that is DIRECTLY focused on people like you. When you hear iOS8, let's be honest, you hear:
- Is this going to make my life more difficult?
- Is this going to make me more money?
- How do I capitalize on this IMMEDIATELY and be that person who makes that stupid utlity app, hit the top of the charts, and retire?
So, I'm going to go through everything that Apple released, and tell you what it means TO YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS. You will also want to checkout our Mobile App Development Guide to stay ahead of the curve.
FROM THE TOP
1. Interactive Notifications
This is pretty cool and very convenient. Similar to it's desktop counterpart, you can now swipe down to immediately respond to recent notification messages. Even on the lock screen! Yes! No more annoying 4-digit codes to type in…
There are lots of other bells and whistles with this, but what you need to know is that it removes a step between notifications and end goal.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: this is going to make your push notifications WAY more powerful. You'll be able to engage users in lots of new ways and direct them into different parts of your app via deep linking.
A good analogy is creating landing pages on a website. You'll be able to send a targeted notification, message, or anything else and have a user respond directly to the app within the notification + push them to a specific part of the app.
This is huge for optimization and analytics users.
My homie Chad Mureta was way ahead of his time on this (he released the Fingerprint Scanner joke app back in the day and made some serious $$$).
In iOS8, they're making this a reality, integrating the fingerprint technology to unlock the home screen and even make purchases. This increases speed of purchase and also increases security.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: this is going to be awesome for interactivity with games. For one, in-app purchases will be easier than ever to light up, especially ones that are time sensitive.
A good example – check out Subway Surfers. When you run out of lives and you get hit one more time, you have the option to buy more lives…but the clock is ticking. You get 5-10 seconds to make this decision. With the current in-app purchase popup, it gives users more time to think about this buying decision.
But if they just need to press their thumb on the screen….done.
You can also eventually use this to create new entertainment apps. Depending on flexible they make this framework, you can do things like Astrology, Dating, or Personality testing. Press your finger and this app will tell you everything you need to know!
This is an extension of search. Information can be pulled that is not directly available on your phone, such as apps, movies, and music. Amazon kind of does this now, and it makes sense for Apple to extend the experience into their other businesses (cough,AppleAdNetwork,cough).
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: This could potentially expand the already growing field of ASO. Finding ways to appear in Spotlight searches could open up an enormous new market that's outside the app store itself.
This could also bring in new ad network solutions that can capitalize on these secondary marketing solutions. In other words, if you know people who listen to Metallica also download pregnancy apps, you don't need to use Facebook to figure that out – Apple and 3rd party ad networks may open up that data.
You will now be able to apply VSCO filters without leaving the camera app. In other words, your camera will offer features like Instagram and Afterlight directly.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: This is CLASSIC secondary market behavior. Your first reaction might be that “oh shit my filter photo app is screwed!” But in reality, it's not. You just need to start focusing on what people DO with photos.
This can be modification (you add frames or drawings or whatever) OR you focus on some sort of experience that the photos will be shared around.
Example: Let's say I want to build a photo app. Filters might be tougher now. So I look at secondary markets to kick ass in. I realize that there are a lot of golfers that use photo apps, but not many good ones. So I decide to make a photo app with filters, text instructions, digital level, and GPS. I pitch it to be the “Golf Teaching Solution” or weekend warriors that want to fix their stroke.
You take the picture, apply filter to make the lighting better, make some notes, show the angles of your stroke and then save it.
BAM – photo app with all the same features, huge new market.
5. Share Data/Features with other iOS8 apps
This is a big one. Apple released Extensibility Tools, which is a suite of APIs, that allows different apps to talk to each other. This means that different apps can share functions and data with each other.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: This could be an entire book. The biggest thing is thinking about how you can create a PORTFOLIO that works together. Games, photography, utility, books, whatever. You can move data between all of them and even import functions from other apps to light up your own. Wow.
Similarly, from a raw marketing standpoint, this may allow you to build a huge army of apps that can all filter down to one master app without clunky SDKs. This can be done in order to drive users to your most profitable apps or to push relevant users to different app features that are shared.
Apps immediately become more amorphous, offering a wider range of function within the same framework.
6. Family Sharing
Better sharing of calendars and data with groups up to 6 people. This also includes apps and purchases, which means that parents have more control over what their kids purchase.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: While this may look like a hindrance, I see big opportunity. “Family” is simply a marketing term. The core features here are beautiful. Think collaboration, management, and brainstroming.
I love this kind of stuff and actively work with technologies like this daily. I think this is going to open up doors for developers who want to create awesome utility and productivity apps. Call it the “Startup Accelerator” which small startups can use as an alternative to desktop bullshit. Have one assistant managing the entire process, parsing out data to everyone in real time.
This may be a few months, but it shows me that the tech is there and, thus, the money will follow (since the demand is there).
We all know this was coming in one form or another. Without question, the biggest markets in the next 30 years will be mobile, health, and energy. HealthKit allows you to store metrics like heart rate, calories burned, sleep, blood pressure, weight, etc. You can begin digitizing this information all through their frameworks.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: Right now the opportunity is in the data collection. Use this app, track your sleep. Track your diet. Track your steps walked. Apple is going to eliminate all that (which it should) because it's NOT creative.
Think of “what do I do with this data?” type solutions. A good example is WellnessFX. The big winners that YOU can build need to answer the questions about what people do next. High blood pressure? Download my 30 day detox smoothie app that will lower your blood pressure.
The HealthKit is going to also allow people to interact with apps in a new way. Gamify your health. Lose 20 pounds in 60 days, but receive coins along the way. Compete with friends. Maybe even real money betting?
You can now send audio and video messages the same way you can with WhatsApp, Voxer, etc. This is a clear competitor, even to Snapchat in some ways.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: This will definitely consolidate your team processes the way you probably use apps already.
But – you can also profit from this by thinking about how people will use it. Teens will use it. Teams will use it. Friends will use it. What can you build that will extend that experience?
Maybe something like a “Best of July video messages” where you scrape iMessage and do a fun video they can upload to YouTube? Maybe a hilarious auto-tuned remix of your recent voice memos?
You see what I mean.
9. Third Party Keyboards
Yes – awesome. It's about time they did this and took a page out of Android's book. Apple will now allow third party keyboards to be used, similar to how they allow languages and emojis to be used in the current keyboard.
This is going to really open up the way people message and communicate.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: The obvious one here is Emoji keyboards, but the less obvious ones include things like “Talk Like You're On Game of Thrones” or “1600's Renaissance Keyboard” – essentially creating new languages but not with letters, with phrases.
You'll also be able to get much more creative in monetization. With third party keyboards, you'll be able to “unlock” certain parts, only type a certain amount per month, or whatever. Obviously this depends on Apple and the competition, but something to think about.
Just as Google purchased Nest for a cool $3B, Apple also realizes the power of collecting data in the home. HomeKit is marketed as a way to control your lights and appliances, but in reality, it's a terrific way to get data on users so they are better targeted for products. Watch a lot of TV but no AppleTV? Send 'em an email.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: The low hanging fruit on this is going to be automation. Building apps that take away control from people in a way that's better. Example: build the “Suburban Efficiency Slayer” – this app has 12 pre-set controls that will lower your energy costs by 15%. All you do is select it and program in your applicable products.
Or maybe you develop an app that allows people to create really nice presets (“dinner party” or “morning coffee”).
11. iCloud Drive
Coming in REAL hot is the iCloud Drive, a direct competitor to Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. Not only that, it's a fraction of the cost. This is a real homerun for Apple, in my opinion, because they're finally opening up Enterprise level solutions in their OS. This means they can sell big solutions to big clients the way Dropbox and others have been doing (and making BANK doing it).
This will allow you to sync all your files more easily, have backups, and automate more info.
BLUECLOUD TAKEAWAY: This is going to really open up the backend of apps. Being able to store data within a cloud server that's fully dialed into Apple's system will give developers a lot more flexibility. For the bigger devs, it will provide more creative solutions – think about being able to pull all your photos directly into an app in real time.
For most devs, the opportunities with this will be in utility and productivity. Honestly your best bet is to see what solutions people created for dropbox and others. I also love apps like IFTT which could easily dial into something like this and make good money.
The final, and potentially biggest piece, is the new programming language that Apple rolled out called Swift. There's no way I'm going to get into the details because I actually don't understand most of them 🙂
BUT – let's talk about the bottom line:
- Included in Xcode 6
- Allows for a much more stabilized build environment – faster, more responsive, and stronger code
- Consolidate best parts of Objective-C to make more efficient
What this means to you and your developer:
- They will need to get the new Xcode 6
- They will need to learn how to program in Swift (this is not like learning an entirely new language, more like a Toyota driver learning to drive a Ferrari)
- You can still build and use your Objective-C apps
A cool, interesting release which is not nearly as insane as the iOS7 release. I actually think Apple is looking for ways to slow down the rate of development with a lot of these. They can't handle how fast we're building apps! Haha.
In any event, this is pretty cool. If you think this market is done/saturated/over, you're out of your mind. This is the beginning of the next revolution in mobile. Big money, big opportunity, and big changes.
Strap on the seatbelt. Let's do this.