WWDC, Apple’s flagship software conference, is well underway and the company has delivered its high profile keynote.
But what were the major announcements at the show? And what in particular will affect mobile marketers across the world? Here are our top five takeaways.
1) iOS 9 – the user friendliest iOS ever?
While iOS 9 is not the most revolutionary OS Apple has released in terms of flashy new features, it is a welcomed update from both the user and marketer perspective. In comparison to the visually striking iOS 7 or the extendable nature of iOS 8, iOS 9 is a bit of a let down on the big headline front.
But, as with all things, the devil is in the detail. And two particularly important details about iOS 9 suggest it could be really useful for developers and users alike.
First, the installation size of iOS 9 is nearly two thirds smaller than iOS 8 at 1.3GB in size. And second, iOS 9 will be compatible with all devices that currently run iOS 8 – meaning none of the current generation of devices get left behind.
Though neither of these developments are dominating the headlines, both will have a strong positive effect for marketers. Not only will users free up over 2.5GB of space on their devices to install new apps, this will likely drive adoption of iOS 9 over iOS 8’s 80% mark – helping developers to focus on developing one fantastic app experience.
2) iPad multi-tasking to help drive wider app usage
Multi-tasking on tablets has been a long requested feature for Apple. So many have welcomed the news that the iPad will support multi-tasking from the release of iOS 9 onwards.
In particular, mobile marketers may have a good reason to celebrate this development. As the keynote demo showed, two apps will be able to run independently of one another on one screen. This means that users who may have previously left your app to open another one can, on the iPad at least, keep both balls in the air.
The benefits of this could be widespread. Planning your next holiday with AirBnB? Why not open your notes app at the same time to help you compare prices. Need to ask a friend to send you resources in Game of War and they’re not online? Flip open Messages and ask them through there.
For iPad focused developers on a budget, multi-tasking could be the key to extending the functionality of your apps without spending big. And that’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on.
3) watchOS brings developers the power of native
The Apple Watch has been plagued since launch with apps that are too slow and limited in functionality. The changes that Apple announced at WWDC to what developers can use in watchOS are therefore likely to be welcomed by the whole industry.
Described as enabling “native” applications, the changes to watchOS allow app developers to access the full range of the device. This includes access to the Apple Watch architecture (which will speed apps up), access to the sensors in the device to allow apps to track data using the likes of Healthkit and usage of the crown on the side of the device.
Though Apple is still restricting developers from creating custom watch faces, the evolution to watchOS will make a big difference to devices. When Apple opened up the iPhone to apps, it transformed the fortunes of the smartphone. Changes like this could make wearables a realistic prospect for users and developers alike.
4) Improved Siri and Spotlight need to convince marketers
Though Apple has had a long established lead in revenue generation over its major rivals, there are few who will disagree with the idea that Google is significantly better than them when it comes to search.
While neither platform is perfect for filtering through content, Google’s greater reach beyond the Play Store into the wider world of search has given it extensive expertise in helping users reach the right content.
A series of WWDC announcements suggests that Apple gets this. The introduction of deep linking into Spotlight should help users find content within the right apps; the introduction of Siri Proactive should help guide users at relative moments; the introduction of transit directions in Maps suggests Apple understands users need deeper search options.
But with Google forging ahead with Google Now, app install ads in Google itself and a Google Play equivalent of adwords, Apple needs to convince marketers soon it is up for the search fight.
5) Apple Music to transform the music streaming industry
Finally, as was rumored last week, Apple unveiled their music streaming service for the first time. And, also as expected, it could have a significant effect on the music streaming landscape.
The service is a relatively run of the mill offering. For $9.99 a month (or $14.99 per month for a multi user plan), users will get access to as much music as they want as well as curated playlists, artist pages and a new radio station called Beats1.
The reason why Apple Music is likely to have such an impact is the size and power of Apple. Although Spotify has 15m paid subscribers, Apple’s out-dated iTunes has 800m. If they can convert even 2% of that base to paid Apple Music subscribers, they’ll be able to leapfrog the biggest player in the market.
And though Apple’s approach to playlist curation and artist relations will please music industry players, the company’s frosty approach to advertisers means that most marketers will be unlikely to tap into the potentially huge growth of the service.