10 Announcements From WWDC That Impact Mobile-First Businesses

July 20, 2017
By: Special Guest
Barry Nolan, VP of Strategy, Swrve

Since the birth of the iPhone 10 years ago, Apple (News - Alert) continues its mission to drive innovation, creating technology to be more useful, efficient, and more seamless. With several announcements made during Apple’s annual WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC), here are the 10 that mobile-first businesses should consider.

Machine learning to know every user and anticipate their needs

Machine learning empowers computers with the ability to learn by themselves, as opposed to being explicitly programmed. Computers have intuition versus follow rules. A theme throughout Apple’s annual WWDC was device-based machine learning to anticipate customer needs, and then surface information or interactions to solve said needs. 

Apple is adding its machine learning framework, Core ML, in two ways. First, developers will have direct access to the GPU to run their own machine-learning models on the device to make apps more intelligent.

Second, Apple will make available pre-built machine learning models. These include real-time image recognition, text prediction, sentiment analysis, face detection, handwriting detection, emotion detection, and entity recognition.

The larger point is that machine learning is now just an API call, available to all. It will make user experiences more prescient, apps more intelligent. As an example, see how Amazon deploys image recognition in to simplify purchasing. Another illustration is the new Siri-powered watch face, which uses machine learning to customize its content in real time throughout the day, including reminders, traffic information, upcoming meetings, news, smart home controls, etc. It’s all about the right information or interaction when it’s needed.


AR as an everyday interaction model

The most frequently used sensor on smartphones is the camera. To this, Apple has added APIs for augmented reality (AR) layered over your camera view.  With this API, iPhone (News - Alert) or iPad uses the camera and motion sensors to do seamless positional reaching around digital imagery. Walk around the table and your perspective of content changes. The opportunity for interactive gaming is obvious – some incredible demos were posted at WWDC.

But, AR will likely have the greatest impact outside of gaming. Training, product placement, interactive manuals, industrial design, and immersive shopping will see AR become an everyday thing. Think of the opportunities AR provides IKE:  Fire up your camera, point it at your sitting room, and see from every angle how that couch will look. Satisfied? Tap Apple Pay.


Reinforcing the app age

Apps today are the default for most customer interaction. The larger point about these announcements is they reinforce the centricity of apps in consumers’ everyday lives. None of the innovations above function in a Web browser.

Safari will reduce the effectiveness of online advertising

Apple users tend to be the most valuable users to advertisers. Small changes in Safari will have a big impact on online advertising.

These changes make Facebook’s (News - Alert) position even stronger – most Facebook users engage through mobile apps as opposed to the web. So, these changes have no impact. 

An all-new App Store

The biggest complaint made about the App Store is discoverability. How do you get found?  To address, Apple has completely redesigned the iOS App Store.


First, apps and games are now separate, which will make apps much more discoverable. This vacates list real estate for other apps to occupy.

Second, an all new UI that is more visual, simple and informative. This places a greater emphasis on superior (visual) descriptors of your app. 

Third, there is a ‘today’ section, which is curated by Apple. The goal is to be less reliant on lists for discoverability and make the store a daily destination. These changes will likely improve discoverability.


New Guidelines on how to ask for App Store reviews

Apple has standardized how apps ask users to rate them on the App Store.  It uses their new In-App Rating API.  iOS11 will disallow custom review prompts. Apple will no longer reset the app store rating every time you submit a new version to the store.  And, (finally) developers can now reply to user reviews.


Apple has expanded payment options beyond in-app purchases

For magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VoIP, cloud storage, and any other service, the requirement to use Apple’s own payment method has been relaxed. You can promote other payment methods so long as your communications about other purchasing methods are not designed to discourage use of In-App Purchasing.


Apple Pay will support person-to-person payments via iMessage.

You can now use Apple Pay to send money between individuals in iMessage – money received will be stored in a cash card within the Apple wallet app, and can be used for Apple Pay purchases but not cashed out.  Additional details to come.


Apple’s Business Chat is a powerful new channel for interacting with your customers

iMessage – already one of the world’s largest messaging apps — has ambitions. It wants to be a platform with the launch of Business Chat. Business Chat is a new way for businesses to connect with customers directly in Messages. Customers can find a business and start conversations from Safari, Maps, Spotlight, or Siri. This is the power of defaults at work.

New innovations include a Time Picker (scheduling tool that integrates with the calendar app) and List Picker (show customers lists of products or choices). Integration with Apple Pay is especially interesting. It makes a purchase frictionless.

If you don’t retain users, iOS11 automatically deletes your app.

iOS11 will automatically uninstall apps that haven’t been used for a period of time, when the device is low on space. Documents and data for uninstalled apps will remain available in case the app is reinstalled. This places even greater value on engagement and retention strategies.

About the Author: Barry Nolan is Chief Marketing Officer at Swrve. He has been in the mobile marketing space for as long as it has existed, first with Converser and now with Swrve. He has extensive experience with a variety of start-ups and grown-ups.




Edited by Erik Linask