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WWDC 2016: Continued Maturation, More Monetization

Step Christopher

WWDC 2016

As I type, Apple’s yearly developer conference, WWDC 2016, is in full swing. The keynote can be watched via Apple TV and their website, or you can catch summaries and highlights on every site that covers Apple’s doings.

As developers dive in to all the nerdy goodness this week, what does this mean for your business? Apple has opened up several new business opportunities, and has continued to improve experiences for your developers so they can work more effectively and efficiently.

Monetization

Apple’s business now officially has four legs. You need to consider where your company fits on each of these platforms: iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS.

Subscriptions for apps are here! Apple wants to enable stronger and longer-lived apps on devices like the iPad, so they have significantly loosened restrictions, added features, and will be taking a lower percentage of your profits for long-running subscriptions.

Apple Pay is a big deal. Even if you don’t care about Apple device app development, you should probably support Apple Pay on your website, making it easy for those users to give you money. As a colleague said, “I’ll have a strong bias towards sites with Apple Pay. I hate entering my credit card info.”

If you make Mac apps, you now have access to CloudKit and more, without having to go through the Mac App Store. CloudKit and related web services are growing more promising every year.

Maturation and New Growth

Apple promised more extensions and extension points when they were first introduced in iOS 8. They followed up later that year with Apple Watch extensions. This year, we will see several new extension points, which means that you can introduce your apps into ever more places on your customers’ phones.

  • You can make messaging apps that live within iMessage.
  • You can now make phone extensions for VoIP apps.
  • Your app can even begin to supercede Apple’s default apps if it is central to a user’s experience.
  • Communications apps will be competing heavily for this new opportunity.

Devs, get familiar with NSUserActivity if you aren’t already!

tvOS continues to gain capabilities; game developers in particular got a lot of new toys—ahem, tools—this year. In addition, single sign-on means greater adoption of various channel apps, as users don’t have to fight through registering each and every app to use them.

Back on iOS, your app can have better notifications, actionable even from the lock screen. Your apps can be prioritized by your customers
on their watches and TVs, even hooking in where previously only default apps could (like within the Contacts app). Your apps can surface in
iMessage and provide custom content and conversations.

With the aforementioned NSUserActivity, you could already appear in searches, both local and across the App Store. Now you can even show up via Siri, and you can make your app directly responsive to customer inquiries and commands. The API is a different model than Amazon’s
Alexa API, and seems to provide more power, but usage is currently restricted to a few key domains.

Competition with Google

Apple did not leave Google’s challenges from I/O unmet. Apple is playing catch-up in areas that Google has excelled in (such as deep learning and context-sensitive interactions), but in other areas such as application performance (with Swift) and user privacy issues, Apple is ahead. Both companies incremented on home automation and message app features this year.

Where to Focus?

  • Apple’s users get excited about shiny new experiences, and about incremental improvements in their daily workflows. Apple has delivered on these things this year.

  • Pay attention to Apple’s booming international business, particularly in China.

  • Notice Apple’s focus on supporting all age groups and ability levels. There are a lot of vibrant markets to be found on their platforms.

  • Take a fresh look at Apple technologies. The incremental yearly changes can quickly leave you behind if you’re not watching carefully.

  • You should especially look for ways that your company’s services can meet customers throughout the OS, not just within your app. You can provide more value, more entry points, and new ways to interact.

If you’d like some help, I know some people who are very good at integrating the latest technologies in projects. If your developers would like to learn the newest foundational frameworks and techniques, we do that too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of videos to watch.

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