For tech enthusiasts and professionals, all eyes were on Apple’s annual WWDC event yesterday.
For many, the hope was to see Apple’s developments in AI, home automation and the advancement of Siri.
While these things are interesting and give clear signs to the future of computing (and digital marketing), there were a number of features that should excite and intrigue marketers today.
Apple Pay comes to Mac
Apple’s solution in the battle to own consumer wallets will be getting an upgrade in the second half of the year and ecommerce players should be elated.
Users will now be able to pay for products on the web using the service, thus reducing some steps (and barriers) to purchase on ecommerce sites that have opted in.
Already being used on iPhones and Apple Watches around the world, the change should see even more Apple users adopt the service across all the devices, eventually making it their default option for payments.
All users will have to do is click the “Pay with Apply Pay” button and authenticate using their phone or watch.
Not only will this shorten the buying process, it could also act as an additional signal of trust for users more reluctant to make purchases online.
Increased continuity across devices
The Apple Pay example is just one way Apple is unifying its experience across the devices. The company will also:
- Allow users to unlock their Macs with the Apple Watch, by simply having it on the wrist when switching on the device.
- Introduce a universal desktop on all logged in MacOS products, which can be accessed on iOS products via iCloud.
- Enable universal clipboard users to, for example, copy an image on the phone and paste it on the Mac.
While there is nothing new that marketers can do through this, Apple is again resetting consumer expectations by creating a more seamless experience across its portfolio of products.
This is a difficult bar to measure up against. However, the difficulty of this is not the consumers’ problem.
They will just want to know why your site/app/experience doesn’t work the same, or they will give up and move on.
Richer notifications – make a good impression fast
The trend of apps being less of a destination and providing value without being opened is only increasing.
Developers will have the capability to provide much richer notification experiences.
Rich notifications on the lock screen (after using 3D Touch) pic.twitter.com/TED25X1D6Y
— Mara3️⃣ (@Marawan_1997) June 13, 2016
These range from completing app functions like social media posts, sending messages and tracking your Uber from the notification screen, to pictures and video content being consumable without needing to unlock the app.
Or in other words…
Lock screen is the new home screen. Notifications are the new news feed. Now we need a notifications algorithm. An algorithm for all apps.
— Jason Stein (@jasonwstein) June 13, 2016
All in all, marketers have greater opportunity to make an impression through notifications, but probably have even less time to do so.
iMessage Extension – more emojis and stickers for all!
A common critique of Apple’s approach across the board is the restrictive attitude to working with developers within their own apps and features.
However, with Apple’s recent focus on “services”, many expected this to change and they were right, with varying results.
First up: iMessage. In response to the rise of importance in messaging apps, Apple gave the service a huge upgrade and opened up the feature to developers.
Users now have much richer messaging options that may differ in methodology, but roughly have the same end result as Snapchat.
Apple also introduced the “Emojification of text.” Enough said.
iMessage will also be opening up to developers, allowing group ordering from food apps and P2P payments among other things.
More importantly for brands, there will now be a marketplace for messaging extensions, likely for emojis, stickers and bots.
The platform allows brands to direct message users with extremely timely offers after the user has taken advantage of a free offer – e.g. download a free sticker pack – thus providing yet another channel for brands to engage with potential customers at various stages of the funnel.
Whether this model will be copied exactly, it will likely manifest itself in some way, and given the power of direct messages, it is well worth exploring.
Maps and Siri have developer extensions too
Although Apple also opened up Maps and Siri, the use cases for most marketers are still quite limited.
Only apps that offer ride booking, restaurant reservations and other specific location-based activities will be able to gain accessibility within Maps.
For example, the demonstration showed the ability to look for a specific type of restaurant, based on location and cuisine, then book a reservation and order a taxi without leaving Maps.
The use cases of integrating with Siri are only slightly less limiting:
Siri API is domain-contained. Not surprising. pic.twitter.com/9T1PsBIeAC
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) June 13, 2016
While these are welcome changes, they do not represent the degree of openness required to enable the future of computing according to the gospel of Amazon, Google, Facebook and even VIV, the new voice assistant recently debuted by the original creators of Siri.
That said, the changes mentioned above should keep marketers and digital teams extremely busy as we head towards the Autumn launch date.
Which Apple innovations are most exciting for you and your business? Let me know in the comments.