Dave Thorpe
Head of Business Growth
8 min read

WWDC 2020 – Key Takeaways For App Developers

Monday was the start of WWDC 2020 and Apple kicked things off with their keynote event. They made many announcements across their whole suite of products including iOS 14, the new Silicon chips and, in true Apple fashion, new privacy updates maintaining their reputation as one of the most privacy focused companies within the market.

It feels like only yesterday we were bringing you our thoughts on iOS 13 but as always in the mobile landscape change comes thick and fast so without taking a breather we are diving into the main changes we need to consider when developing our applications for iOS 14.

iOS 14 App clips - Market your apps quickly at point of use.

One of the biggest innovations announced is the ability to create “app clips” These app clips are designed to be small, single features of existing apps or simple quick use transactions. The idea behind app clips is to allow users to immediately get the functionality they seek without having to go through the app store, find and download your app (which can sometimes be large) and go through the sign-up process. These app clips make great use of Apple Sign-in and Apple Pay so if your app could be focussed down to a single action you should take full advantage of this.

A key benefit we can see from app clips is the ability to market your app to your customers at the point of use and being able to deliver a simple and slick conversion for both you and your user. Those two benefits combined means most “consumer” apps should start looking at what app clips they can benefit from.

The size of download will be a challenge at less than 10mb, but the primary focus of an app clip is to perform a single task and if you can do this effectively you can then encourage your user to download your full app to get the rest of the services and benefits you offer. I think app clips could become a primary marketing tool for many apps to drive adoption and it will be interesting to see some of the ways app clips can be innovative in generating user bases.

iOS 14 Widgets - To be front and centre give away just the very best

The update to widgets in both iOS 14 and iPad 14 allows users to move and customize their widgets. There are several new larger widget types which allows for user customisation and gives us as developers a few variants for the amount/type of information we wish to display.

Some consideration will be needed to put this into your strategy, if you wish to benefit your users and convince them of your worth. The widgets do take up a considerable amount of space within iOS 14 so our advice is to keep to the most essential information and design you widgets around the presumption of the smallest widget block being the most adopted to allow your users the least friction for keeping your widget around.

However the exciting update for us as developers is the ability for the widgets to be displayed amongst the apps. This means that widgets users find truly useful can now be displayed on screens they visit everytime they unlock their phone. This means if you can convince your users that the value you give them in your widget is important to them you can be front and centre at all times allowing for you users to passively and actively engage with your apps with greater frequency.


Privacy - Don’t be left behind by Apple

This year Apple announced another large amount of updates to privacy on their devices. As developers there are things we must do and things we should do to keep up to date with Apple’s policies. We now need to state what data and tracking our apps are using to users within the app store page. As developers we should embrace these privacy updates and use/track only the data we require. The new tools such as approximate location sharing is more than enough for most of our apps to achieve our goals and gives our users assurance in our commitment to their privacy.

But what should we be doing as developers? Well revisiting again what data is necessary to collect in the first place and what tracking we need for a user to effectively use our app. If its not necessary then don’t do it. If your app requires things like location services to achieve its core function users are highly likely to accept this type of data and tracking requirements but if it is not obvious to a user why you need this information then Apple is giving them the tools to reject.

Lots of data and tracking is used by companies for marketing purposes and while some users do not mind this there are many users who do, so when it comes to app development we would recommend in using as little data capture as possible but instead track things like usage and engagement to allow you to remarket to them with the app. This data is less intrusive and when done well actually enhances user experience.

Something else worth noting is that last year Apple announced Apple sign-in which has seen huge uptake by users and they informed us of the statistic from Kayak stating users were 2x more likely to sign up with Apple Sign-in than other methods so I think it is safe to say that users are appreciating the efforts Apple are going to when it comes to privacy and we should embrace these changes in our design and implementation rather than resisting them. From iOS 14 users can convert their existing accounts with apps to sign-in with Apple so I would expect to see this trend continue from Kayak and have users convert their accounts.

Picture in picture - Revolutionizing how we use video on our devices.

This update will excite a lot of users and it’s something we need to be mindful of when designing not only video apps but also any other app. We should now be expecting users to be watching video while engaging with our apps and this can pose us some tricky questions. From Craig Federigi’s demo we can see that navigating away from the video app the video continues playing in the bottom right corner.

This is now obviously a design consideration we need to take into account. Users are quite possibly watching a video while using our app and we need to give this some space. It would not only be frustrating for a user if your CTA or key information was behind this video but you would also be devaluing whatever is hidden there. Users can move their video around the screen but we should at least take this standard pinned position into account as a minimum and maybe creating space in your apps to allow users breathing space for things like this new video overlay should become part of your day to day design process – as it has been for iPadOS apps since iOS 13.

If you are creating an app where video is an integral part of your offering you should also be taking into consideration users navigating away from your app while still engaging with your content. The problem is you may start to miss out on being able to nurture their experience with your app once they have navigated away.

Now you will need to think of other intelligent and useful ways to remarket to that engaged audience once they have moved away from your app as they may never come back in that same session. Push notifications could become a powerful tool to recommend similar content or other meaningful engagements you want your users to take.

These are just some of the changes that Apple announced at WWDC and there is obviously much more we will be covering over the coming weeks but at least we have shared with you a flavour of what to expect. If you have any questions about anything we have discussed in this article or anything else Apple announced at WWDC please get in touch as we would love to chat to you about this further. We hope this has been useful and thanks for reading.