With all the hype around the launch of iOS8, and the iPhone 6 generation let’s take a look at what app owners and developers need to do to prepare your app for iOS8, and what opportunities lie ahead.
In this article we will cover three major areas of the device, the operating system and the marketing of the app. We recommend that our clients only run support for the last two versions of iOS, to keep things manageable from a testing and maintenance point of view. This also means that you may not be able to take advantage of the latest version / hardware tricks. You have to have a very good reason to keep support or nail down to only the latest version. We recommend you take a look at your stats and user base to decide what is required.
Dropping support for iOS 6 is not really a big deal. You would loose the 3GS, released way back in 2009 and first generation iPad – both of which behave a bit slow given the age of the hardware and need for processing power as iOS has grown up.
iOS 8 however will not be supported on an iPhone 4, so Apple are signalling the death of the older phones little by little.
The iPhone 6 & 6+
The new devices come with a slew of improvements, but from a developer point of view one of the biggest changes is the design and testing element with the new screen sizes. Here are the specifications of all the iOS8 supported devices, and their screen sizes:
|iPhone 4 & 4S||iOS 4.0 – 8.0||3.5″ (8.9 cm)||640 × 960 px||326ppi|
|iPhone 5, 5C & 5S||iOS 6.0 – 8.0||4″ (10 cm)||640 × 1136 px||326ppi|
|iPhone 6||iOS 8.0||4.7″ (11.9 cm)||1334 × 750 px||326ppi|
|iPhone 6+||iOS 8.0||5.5″ (13.9 cm)||1920 × 1080 px||401ppi|
With the 6+ in 1080p that means all your assets need to be in super size retina ready formats, to make the best use of that resolution. This will be a big change for game developers who will be taking advantage of superb graphics to improve gameplay. This increases the need for design resources on each app, and testing resources to check the newer devices.
iOS 8 Features
iOS 8 brings a number of great features that can be used with the new hardware, here are a few of the highlights.
If you have an app where you would like for a user to start on an iPhone and finish on their iPad (like a document, email, presentation etc.) Handoff allows you to send the work over to the other device, or even a Mac running OSx 10 Yosemite. This will be built into the Apple standard apps, and can be used by app developers in their own apps.
Changes to the underlying architecture of photo management allows your user to edit a photo in the camera without having to import it into the app first. This means that you could use a number of photo apps to edit an image that you took in an app like Instagram, then Instagram will follow along with your edits ready to post it for you without you having to re-select it from the camera roll. This will also allow your editing of a photo the same on your devices and mac.
Push notifications get a beef up in iOS 8 so that user actions can be included.Apple’s keynote examples included buttons for replying to or liking a comment on Facebook, and responding to a message with a text box that arrives with the notification. This prevents the need to open the app, unlock the phone, so the user can get more done from the lock screen.
Notification Center Widgets
Apple announced that the notification centre would allow users to install widgets that show off particular pieces of bite sized information from an app. This means that a user could spend notably less time in app, and use the widget to interact via iOS 8. Consider now how you can make your app more unique with these features, and as we saw with iOS 7 – those who were out first got press and users.
Finally Apple brings NFC to the iPhone – this allows a user to tap the device onto a special reader and pay for items from the wallet on their phone. This is not a new technology, and Android devices have supported it for some years, so it makes us wonder if it will help the technology go mainstream and start to appear in your local supermarket.
The iPhone 6 introduces a number of sensors that are specific to body monitoring, pointing towards the fitness and health conscious market. the Apple Watch did not get the same sensors curiously, so we will have to wait and see where this goes.
One big feature in iTunes is the arrival of App Previews, intro videos for your app that give potential users the ability to assess your app prior to download, this is an opportunity not to be missed.
Family Sharing now allows iTunes users to share app purchases and music between those in their circles. This can impact on revenue if your app is shared around a family. It is however only limited to 6 members of that family.
With Push notifications being given more utility, marketers should adjust the strategy around them, ensuring you provide additional value to your users. Include an actionable call to action, images and more – solely transmitting text information with no action could become frustrating.
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