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How Apple’s tweaks to iOS 14 could be a game changer for ecommerce apps

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Six key updates to iOS introduced by Apple at its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2020, could revolutionise retail apps.

According to analysis by app commerce company Poq, the updates Apple is planning to introduce will be a game-changer for retailers, making it easier for shoppers to find, use and interact with a retailer’s app. Here’s how.

  • App Clips: Apple describes App Clips as a “small part” of the app designed to be discovered the moment it is needed. For retailers, App Clips mean shoppers have the ability to Sign in with Apple and use Apple Pay to quickly make purchases on the go. This isn’t all shoppers will be able to do. Through App Clips, shoppers could scan QR codes to get product information in-store, use Apple Messages and using NFC Tags retailers can trigger App Clips to launch at specific locations, for example when a shopper is near a store. 
  • Portable Apps: Making it easier for developers to develop shopping apps and deploy to all devices. Mac computers will be moving to Apple’s own silicon chips, meaning iOS and iPad apps are automatically executable on desktop. And Catalyst – Apple’s app to convert iPad apps to desktop apps – makes the process whole lot easier on Big Sur (Mac OS 11).
  • App Library: Apple has recognised that the explosion of apps on Home Screens requires better organisation and management tools. Using artificial intelligence, Apple will show users which apps are the most relevant for them at a given time. Especially for frequent users of a retailer’s app, that app will be kept front of mind for shoppers, increasing the likelihood of further interactions.
  • Picture-in-picture: This new feature will allow iPhone users to watch video content whilst they use another app at the same time. Meaning shoppers can browse a retailer’s app whilst they watch their favourite programme, keeping them within the retail app.
  • Widgets: These can be placed anywhere on the Home Screen and display a small amount of information from an app. Retailers can get creative with how they use these, from providing updates about latest offers and product drops to content aimed at engaging consumers.
  • Sign In with Apple: Logging into accounts just became easier. For retailers that integrate with the feature, shoppers will be able to link their existing account with a retailer to their Apple account, making the login process more efficient and making one less password to remember.

According to Poq these updates will not only improve the experience shoppers have on retailer’s and brand’s apps but will make them easier to discover and easier to re-engage shoppers who have already downloaded the apps.

The App Clips feature especially has the capacity to connect the app experience with the physical store, improving the omnichannel experience.

These updates have the potential to revolutionise how consumers interact with and use shopping apps on a game-changing scale. The WWDC 2020 announcement is arguably the most important announcement for retailers in recent years, giving retailers a variety of new ways to engage consumers that they haven’t been able to achieve before.

Poq Chief Technology Officer Jay Johnston explains: “Native languages – Swift on iOS, Kotlin on Android – can expose the full richness of the underlying operating system (OS) as soon as those features are released, while other options like React and PWA will always require some time to catch up and they may struggle to implement features as consistently or efficiently as native code. Our apps are compiled specifically for the target platform (iOS or Android) and therefore are favoured in the ecosystem, run faster and are easier to promote in the App Store.”

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