By, Roland Campbell, Director of Solutions Engineering, Usablenet
Image credit: http://www.pcmag.com/news/345222/apple-ios-10-overhauls-messages-opens-siri-to-developers
The WWDC June 2016: iOS 10 a Breakthrough Release for Apple
The 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) unleashed a wave of groundbreaking updates on iOS 10 for both app developers and everyday users. Despite recent criticism that iOS 10 is an imitative “catch-up” to competitor Android’s platform, the new features and functionalities made available to Apple developers actually constitute a breakthrough release for Apple. What were previously locked core Apple API’s – namely Siri, speech recognition, Proactive Suggestions, iMessage, and Apple Pay – are now accessible and buildable (tools) of any app developer’s toolkit. Now armed with the convenience and cool features provided by open Apple API’s, developers have the opportunity to create a new generation of awesome apps and app updates that will continue to excite users and inspire engagement.
Siri, Speech Recognition, and Your App:
In the app world, the most notable change from iOS 10 is the expanded access to Siri. You now have access to calling features, messaging, payment, searching photos and managing workouts. Your app can utilize Siri to access these features in other apps, providing easy integrations that make your app more powerful. You can also tell Siri the features that your app supports, and Siri will suggest your app when specific services are requested. The ability to get these suggestions will make your app seem more a part of the iOS infrastructure, enabling your app to build trust with users and give you more launches.
In addition to Siri integration, Apple has also made available the speech recognition API. This API allows for continuous speech-to-text recognition, allowing your app to be driven completely by your user’s voice, driving voice search, voice navigation, and voice purchasing. If you can do it with the keyboard and touch, you can do it with voice. In my opinion, voice integration will be a base customer expectation in the near-future. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve without having to invest in third-party voice recognition SDK’s.
Proactive Suggestion Updates and Promoting Your App Across Multiple Fronts
Next in changes brought to iOS 10 is tighter integration with Proactive Suggestions. iOS 9 introduced the capability to advertise your features to Spotlight and Safari search results. In iOS 10, you can tell the system what users do in your apps, helping the OS to promote your app in additional places such as keyboard QuickType suggestions, Maps, CarPlay, and even Siri. You can also provide location information to the system. So, if your app provides store locations, you can push the most recent search to the system. It could, for instance, appear as a suggestion in the next map search. It could even, if you play media, push that media control to the lock screen.
Again, free functionality!
iMessage: Converging Apple’s Most Popular App with Your App
One of the most popular applications built into Apple infrastructure is iMessage. With iOS 10, you can create app extensions that interact with iMessage: now your app can text, send stickers, media files, and messages. You can also allow your app to receive the same. Additionally, you can create a Sticker pack simply by dragging your images into a folder in Xcode. The next viral Internet sensation could be your new sticker of a dancing cat! And, your app could even break the web as users rush to download it.
The Excitement of Apple Pay
The announcements that excited WWCD-goers most were changes to Apple Pay. The big news, to my mind, is the release of Apple Pay to the web. Finally, you can integrate Apple Pay in your desktop and mobile websites, a move that will probably help adoption. At this time unfortunately, Apple Pay is only supported on Safari on iOS and Mac.
Another new service provided is the ability to present your credit card in your App. This means that if you issue a private credit card for your brand, you can display your credit card, rather than the default card, when payment is initiated from your App. The new API now features a method to automatically add new payment networks without requiring a new release of your app, increasing your speed to support these new networks.
Opened APIs Across the Spectrum: A New Way to do familiar things
Skeptics may point to iOS 10 as a “me-too” for Apple, but the new API support unveiled at the WWDC 2016 indicates that Apple is finally opening up the once-closed nature of the OS and setting a new standard for app development. While Siri, Proactive Suggestions, messaging, and Apple Pay constitute some of the bigger-name changes to Apple services, there are many other additions to the OS that developers can and should leverage in their app strategies. These other changes include new ways to support notifications in-app, interactions with the display as well as search enhancements and improvements to the widget library.
Are you planning new releases of your app in the remainder of 2016 and beyond? Now is the time to take advantage of the new OS release to make your app the best it can be. These awesome features will not only set your brand apart now, but they will also make sure your brand is prepared when these now-new features become standard expectations for your many users.