November 1, 2016

Hello Again – Apple Event Recap

The Apple event last week featured a major update for the Apple TV and introduced long-awaited hardware updates for the MacBook Pro line.

 

Apple TV – the TV app

The Apple TV’s got a new app – it’s called “TV”. It aggregates content from other apps to bring a more conventional television experience to the Apple TV. Today, content services, such as Hulu and YouTube, are accessed separately through Smart TVs, game consoles, and more. What’s different about TV is users can access their favorite shows, through a single application. TV combines the shows and movies from other connected services and brings them into one Siri and search-powered experience on the Apple TV. There was no mention of how content creators and developers would have their content indexed by on TV, but there will surely be an announcement in the future. In the meantime, check out the AWE platform – our TV Everywhere solution for Apple TV and more.

 

MacBook Pro – Touch Bar

The main focus of the event was the roll-out of the first new MacBook Pro in 4 years. A number of enhancements were made to the body, performance, and footprint of the device. What was really interesting is the addition of the new “Touch Bar”; a long strip of touch-screen that replaced (almost) the standard F-Keys at the top of the keyboard. The Touch Bar creates a fluid set of controls with multi-touch capability designed to do the job of the many different drop-down menus and sliders so people can make fine-tuned adjustments without cluttering-up the screen when using creative apps like Adobe Suite, Final Cut Pro, and the different Office applications. The UI makes use of rich data visualizations that make the Touch Bar a new independent screen. It also includes both Touch-ID and Force Touch so you can sign-in to your system or apps quickly and get the haptic feedback like pulses and clicks that signal events through touch alone.

There are some obvious questions that arise from people who use their laptops as a workstation with a remote keyboard: Will there be a remote version of the Touch Bar for them?  The answer to that question opens up the possibility of designing Touch Bar controls to run apps on tablets and phones which means the apps themselves will need to be designed to work with the Touch Bar.

 

These are pretty exciting additions aimed at refining the user experience. Time will tell how people integrate them into the way they use the apps and platforms. Contact us today to find out how your application could leverage the new Touch Bar.

June 23, 2016

5 Key Takeaways for Brands from WWDC 2016

There was no shortage of announcements made this year at Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). We’re going to take a closer look at a few updates coming this fall to Apple’s suite of devices. For a detailed recap of the announcements made at WWDC, read our WWDC Keynote Recap.

Hidden amidst Apple’s announcements of their updated apps is the emergence of a new theme in iOS: extensions. Maps, Messages, Siri, and even notifications received robust updates that allow developers to engage with users in more ways than ever. What Apple seems to be heading towards: extensions are the new apps.

What are extensions? Think of them as add-ons for Apple’s first-party apps, such as Maps and iMessage. These add-ons will range from shortcuts to extended functionality. For example, with Maps, you will be able to look up a location, see hotels in the area, and book a room without having to ever leave the app.

 

Extensions add new touchpoints in iOS

Maps extensions are critical for restaurants, transportations services, hotels, retail and more since users will be able to book dinner reservations and request a ride to the location – all while using Maps. While message extensions are not practical for every brand, they should be considered as they will be a great benefit for those who can find a connection with their product or service. There is even an iMessage App Store, which means iMessage extensions have a dramatically increased chance of being discovered. Siri extensions currently have limited uses, but they are certainly an interesting start to a new line of features. Also, with previews available for notifications, it’s important to consider what these interactions will look like for your app while also considering the user’s privacy.

 

Better UX on watchOS

The latest Apple Watch update will allow it to learn which apps are used most and prioritize updates and processing power accordingly. Improved launch times and background updates make interactions almost instantaneous. No more raising your wrist, waiting for the app to load and waiting for the content to refresh. Also, widgets are now available to developers. Brands must consider whether widgets are a valuable add-on for their app as users will now be able to basically save and scroll through their favorite apps on the Apple Watch.

 

Single sign-in on tvOS

Authentication can be an infuriating process when using the same account across multiple apps. Now, for pay-TV channels on Apple TV, users will be able to sign-in once and access all of the apps available to them through their cable provider. This may not be big news for individual content creators, but for any brand with a TV channel, it’s a vast improvement for accessing your content. Users who originally “didn’t feel like taking the time to log-in again” will now simply have to download your app to enjoy the content.

 

Improved mobile communication with macOS

OS X, now macOS, mainly received quality-of-life improvements in the Sierra update. The Apple Watch now allows auto-login on macOS and ApplePay is available online with mobile authentication. This added continuity and communication between devices creates opportunities for new interactions. One industry that will specifically benefit from ApplePay’s new online presence is e-commerce. Consider this: someone’s shopping online and they’re ready to check out, only to realize they need to enter their credit card information and they left their wallet in the bedroom. With ApplePay, they’ll be able to login to their account, a confirmation request will appear on their iPhone, they approve their purchase, and that’s it. Not only does it provide added security, it cuts down on time spent making online purchases; especially on websites that a user may not have previously visited.

Information is becoming easier to share between devices and is a vital factor in user experience between screens. If there is a mobile app equivalent of a macOS application, consider how to leverage this new functionality for added use between devices; if there is not a mobile companion app, you may want to consider creating one.

 

Siri is now available to developers

Integrations are limited at the moment, but this is a very interesting update. One subtle announcement made that makes this even more exciting is the ability to include speech recognition in any iOS app. This furthers the trend of omnipresent interfaces, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Instead of having to physically interact with technology, omnipresent interfaces allow interaction with a device without having it near you. Apple is heading towards a connected home and further connected ecosystem in their suite of devices. By integrating Siri into apps and macOS, seamless transitions between devices and nearly conversational control of them are on its way. What form this will take varies by app and brand, but it’s an exciting addition for future opportunities nonetheless.

 

Contact us today to learn how your brand or app can benefit from the latest updates in the Apple ecosystem.

June 14, 2016

WWDC 2016 Keynote Recap

Every year, Apple hosts the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). In past years, WWDC was where things like the Apple Watch and the Apple TV were announced. While there were no new hardware announcements (such as a new iPhone), Apple did have several exciting revelations for developers. They have taken a holistic approach in their ecosystem with every device now having the ability to speak to each other almost seamlessly. This means that apps are no longer just apps. Maps for example will have an extension to make a dinner reservation, you’ll receive a notification to remind you of the reservation where a 3D touch interaction can give you more details, and then a widget on the Apple Watch will allow you to change your reservation if necessary. It’s more important than ever to think around every touch-point possible for apps, not just the app itself.

Now, lets get to the Keynote recap. Be on the lookout for more as we get the latest information from our developers attending the conference.

 

 

Watch OS 3

The Apple Watch is fully open to developers and as Ryan Gant, iOS Engineer at Bottle Rocket, said after the keynote “it is now a viable platform”. Apple announced instant updates, reduced load time and more. The Apple Watch will perform background updates and keep user’s most used apps in memory; this means watch apps will now load instantly instead of having to wait while they load.

Apple also announced a customizable dock so that you can customize which apps are easily accessible, new watch faces for any occasion, updates to their fitness app and much more.

 

tvOS

The new Apple TV now has a dedicated app so that you can use your iPhone as the remote. It’ll use the accelerometer and gyroscope already built into the phone as an alternative to the Siri Remote. Speaking of Siri, Siri is now open to developers and includes over 650,000 movies and TV shows along with YouTube in search results in this latest update to Apple TV.

One of the most exciting announcements for the Apple TV: Single Sign-On. Instead of logging into each app network app specifically, users can now authenticate once using their cable provider account login and it will apply to all apps associated.

 

macOS Sierra

Apple’s flagship OS now fits the naming convention of their other operating systems as it goes from OS X, to macOS. In macOS Sierra, users will be able to use Apple Pay on the web and authenticate with their phone. Picture-in-Picture display has been added to macOS in similar style to the iPad and every window and application can now have tabs.

macOS now communications with other devices faster and better than ever. Focused on continuity, Apple announced auto-unlock for your computer with your Apple Watch, a universal clipboard so you can copy text on your iPhone and paste it on your MacBook, and even Siri will be joining in as a desktop assistant. This way, you can use Siri just as you would on your iPhone, while you’re on your Mac. If you ask her to set a reminder, the reminder will show up on your phone and watch as well.

 

iOS 10

Apple announced a number of updates to their apps for iOS 10. The part we found interesting is that they have opened up developer extensions on several applications. For instance, in Maps, users will be able to make a reservation at a restaurant and request an Uber pickup, all without ever leaving Maps. Messages, among others, also received an overhaul in this update and will receive the same addition of developer extensions.

Check in for more from Apple and the announcements made at WWDC and don’t forget to be on the lookout for our takeaways from the conference once it concludes.

 

 

March 22, 2016

Apple Special Event March 2016 Recap

Apple Special Event

Many of the announcements were widely anticipated, but for those of you that don’t obsessively chase each rumor as it rears up, we’d like to share with you what we saw as the most exciting parts of this town hall.

Lower pricing on Apple Watch

Apple introduced some new bands for the Apple Watch; these were very attractive, but there was a much more interesting element to this segment of the presentation. Pricing on the Apple Watch has been significantly reduced, with models starting at $299. While we’ve been appreciative of the watch thus far, it’s very exciting to see this aggressive pricing from Apple. When more users are enticed to enter the market for the watch, it encourages developers to create more great apps for the watch, which makes it more likely that users will adopt the watch— a wonderful cycle. We’re excited to see what Apple has done to expand its foothold and this encourages us to continue moving forward with watch development.

AppleTV Updates

Apple also announced some exciting updates for the AppleTV. The most important new functionality we saw was the addition of dictation for most text input (including usernames and passwords). This has the potential to open up some apps that have been challenging because of the difficulty involved in performing text input on the remote. It is also exciting to see Apple add additional in-app search for video to more players than just Netflix and Hulu; many other brands will be added to this search soon.

New 4-inch iPhone

Surprising nearly nobody, Apple has introduced a new 4-inch iPhone. This new iPhone integrates nearly all of the hardware available in the 6s series of phones, but with the smaller handheld design. We know many users are in conflict with their upgrades to the iPhone 6 size format, and they should be very pleased with this return to the classic size. As this is a new phone with a smaller size, we will be working with all of our clients to ensure that their apps look their best on all sizes of iPhones.

New iPad Pro

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, came out to discuss the new iPad Pro, and of all of the products announced, this one was perhaps the most surprising (or, at least, exciting). It brings the computing power of the iPad Pro to the traditional size of the classic iPad. This continues the push we see of the iPad slowly becoming a viable alternative to a traditional computer for many individual’s work tasks. The most exciting part, though, was the TrueTone Display. This display adapts the screen’s color to match the light in its environment. This will make the iPad much more natural feeling when used as a reading device, and many artists may also find it much more usable as a tablet for drawing as a result.

iOS 9.3

There were no surprises in the latest iOS update that were not in the beta. To learn more about the newly added features and which apps also received an update, check out our iOS 9.3 developer preview.

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