WWDC key takeaways

Following Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote session yesterday, we’ve pulled together an overview of the announcements and what they mean for our clients. PLEASE READ this email (at least the TL;DR overview) to ensure that you are up to speed on what’s happening in our industry, and what our clients need to start thinking about.

This is an internal-only email. Please direct anyone outside Somo – including social networks, please! – to the blog: http://www.somoglobal.com/blog/wwdc-2015/

TL;DR

  • iOS 9 focuses primarily on ‘proactive intelligence’ to provide a better user experience, including Siri/search.
  • Apple Pay is coming to the UK next month, Apple’s Passbook app is now called Wallet, and rewards cards will enhance customer loyalty for retailers.
  • Apple Watch has released a new OS, introducing native apps. Now access to microphone, speaker, taptic feedback, HomeKit, and more means this Watch just got much more useful.
  • News is the latest app from Apple, delivering a beautiful, curated feed of news that matters to you to the homepage of your iOS device.
  • iPads are now more productive, as they will have split screen, multi touch capabilities.

Analysis

iOS 9

What: iOS9 is a clear marker of Apple’s intent to deeply understand users to enable highly personalised offerings. Siri has become 40% faster and more accurate over the last year, and Apple announced a number of enhancements in an attempt to bring it up to speed with Google Now. Proactive intelligence was an important theme, aimed at delivering a more personalised experience. For example, saying ‘remind me of this when I get to my car’ to get a geo-aware notification, or the ‘Now Playing’ screen appearing immediately when headphones are plugged in. Relatedly, the search screen will soon display apps that are contextually relevant, based on things such as the time of day.

Why it matters: More and more people are adopting Siri to search for solutions. Businesses need to optimise for this user journey in order to stay competitive in search. As seen in our recent Apple Watch UX report, people have become accustomed to asking Siri for help when they are unsure how to otherwise navigate a device. Companies will soon be able to benefit from the improvements to search, with the search API being released for third party developers. As voice becomes an increasingly important interface, companies should start to consider what their voice strategy is.

Apple Pay

What: Our UK team was thrilled to learn Apple Pay is finally available here beginning next month. Apple already has a number of the key banks on board, and is promising that it will be available at 250,000 locations. Apple Pay will also be available to use on London’s public transport, meaning the Oyster card will soon be a thing of the past. Apple’s Passbook app is soon to become Wallet, an app that will store your card details, as well as supporting loyalty/rewards programs. Apple Pay, in conjunction with Wallet, has the potential to revolutionise the way companies of all sizes engage with their customers. More on Apple Pay via CNET

Why it matters: Retailers around the world should be considering how Apple Pay rewards cards will affect their loyalty programs, and UK retailers need to be ready for the Apple Pay launch, shifting payment behaviour in-store, as well as for purchases made in-app.

Watch

What: Just six weeks after launch, Apple announced a game-changing upgrade for watchOS. watchOS 2 will be available in Autumn and will come complete with a number of new features, such as customisable watch faces, nightstand mode, and Facetime audio calls. However, the most important announcement was native Watch apps, meaning third party developers can now access a range of additional functionality, such as the heart-rate sensor, Digital Crown, and the microphone/speaker. Having been hands-on with the Apple Watch since launch, third-party apps are undoubtedly the area that requires the most work. Having access to these new features dramatically improves what’s possible for companies looking to develop Watch apps. Full feature list from Pocket lint

Why it matters: It is now possible to create much more meaningful watch apps. The new features – microphone, speaker, taptic feedback on the wrist, heartrate monitor, and more – allow users to further engage with an app, bringing businesses closer to customers right on their wrists. Important, watchOS 2’s WatchKit is already available for developers, so the time to start thinking about a watch app is right now.

News

What: Apple announced a new homepage app called ‘News.’ Its new app will personalise content from your favourite sources, in either the format it appears on the site or as a beautifully designed custom piece of content. Apple took us through countless different examples of how its partners in the publishing sector are utilising News, so the question is how long and how many other publishers will also jump on board? News will be ad supported.

Why it matters: News has been compared to Flipboard, but the fact is that this app will be on all devices in the world that run iOS 9. That means a huge audience for publishers to ensure they are in front of for discovery and content monetisation. Publishers interested in joining can sign up now on the Apple website, but we’ll need to wait for iOS 9’s arrival this fall to start reading in the app.

iPad

What: The iPad is set to undergo improvements centred predominantly around productivity. The most notable feature was split screen, multi touch functionality, meaning consumers can now run two apps alongside each other. Apple also introduced quicktype, meaning your keyboard can become a trackpad, and better keyboard support, resulting in commands we’re used to on Macs/MacBooks becoming possible on iPads. Given the decline of iPad sales and the increased popularity of devices like the Microsoft Surface, the introduction of these features was essential if the iPad wants to continue to try and compete in the tablet for business space.

Why it matters: As the iPad becomes a more functional device to both live and work on, the desktop will become less and less relevant. From an enterprise perspective, more companies may start to consider a shift to the tablet for workers, especially those working in the field such as sales reps and senior executives. More from The Verge

Other announcements

El Capitan: Apple also announced the next version of OS X, El Capitan. El Capitan is a small upgrade from Yosemite, focused on experience and performance improvements. Incremental improvements seemingly followed leading functionality from competitive OSs. If you still care about the desktop, here’s an overview from Wired

Apple Music: Given the rumours/leaks prior to the event, it was no surprise when Apple announced Apple Music. Apple Music combines a streaming service, a 24/7 radio network, and a new way for artists to get themselves heard. Apple Music will come pre-installed on Apple devices running iOS 8.4, but will also be available on Android and Windows. I didn’t focus on this for the client announcement, but it was their big finale so you may want to read more for full details.

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