What Apple's Latest Announcements Mean for App Developers

Apple dominated headlines in the tech industry last week with several new announcements to their product line. With the highly-anticipated iPhone 6 shipping on Friday, Apple is set to release iOS 8 -- the latest version in their praised mobile operating system. The tech giant also announced a new payment technology and even a smartwatch.

Apple's announcements grabbed the attention of consumers and tech fans, but what do they mean for app developers? We've compiled a rundown of what we're excited about and what our members think about these new opportunities.

iPhone 6: Bigger, more beautiful screens are better for your apps. Period.

Perhaps most evident is the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus' increased screen size and pixel resolution. The new devices will feature 4.7 -inch and 5.5-inch, respectively, with incredible pixel resolution. This will allow app developers to create more visually-immersive experiences on iOS apps. Larger screens also change the amount of ad dimensions app publishers can use in their apps, allowing app developers to engage larger advertisers and increase monetization.

Behind the curtain, the new 64-bit A8 processor is smaller and faster than its predecessor. The A8 offers faster graphics performance and is more energy efficient. Apple also introduced Metal in iOS 8 to enable "incredibly high performance for sophisticated graphics rendering and computational tasks" and eliminate "many performance bottlenecks that are found in traditional graphics APIs," according to Apple. 

Apple made some big announcements yesterday, but one of the things we’re looking forward to most is Metal and what it means for game development. Apple continues to make the iPhone a bigger and more powerful gaming device and Metal will definitely be a big jump for game development on iOS.
— Ryan Lessard, Pollen - Velocity Capital

iOS 8: More access, capabilities, and awesomeness.

iOS 8 empowers developers to create better experiences for the user and leverage device and ecosystem functionality.

Deeper Access to iOS

First, Apple gives developers more access to iOS by allowing apps to tap into more of the built-in functionalities. For example, iOS 8 opens up photo and social sharing options to third-party apps, grants access to documents stored on the device for editing, and even actionable notifications right in the Notification Center. 

With the launch of iOS 8, actionable notifications and a customizable notification center are going to give users greater flexibility in interacting with mobile apps anywhere on the device, not just inside the apps themselves. They’ll have a less disruptive experience, witness more compelling and action-oriented alerts, and will have increased control over what types of communication they receive.
— Harrison Seitz, Appboy

Communication Between Apps 

iOS 8 also opens up new capabilities for developers to communicate with other apps. Apple unlocked more than 4,000 APIs and services to developers, such as HealthKit for health and fitness apps, HomeKit for home automation and security apps. These "Kits" give developer access to any information a user has elected to share across their apps. Apple has also opened up TouchID to allow developers to enable fingerprint sign-in to their apps. These powerful APIs offer users a more connected experience between third-party apps, a more secure and seamless experience for users, and enable new categories of apps. 

Apple introducing this library of APIs empowers developers to create completely new experiences for end users. For example, developers can create custom input methods for their apps and custom keyboards. Not only does this open up the opportunity for third-party keyboards (a feature that Android users have long enjoyed), but it allows developers to consider alternative forms of input that fit their app.

With iOS 8, third party input methods are now allowed which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for developers who want to meet consumer demand and leverage natural input methods such as handwriting in their applications.
— Denis Manceau, MyScript

Changes to the App Store: Getting your app noticed.

With iOS 8, there are a few key changes to the App Store that could prove extremely useful for app developers. 

Better Discovery in the App Store

With a few small changes, the App Store improved for developers. Apple will add subcategories to each of its 24 app store categories, making it easier for an app developer to rank within their apps' subcategory. Additionally, Apple will display search results vertically instead of horizontally; a format much more common and useful to the user. This vertical display also allows for two apps to display at once instead of just one, allowing for more apps to claim real estate on a mobile device's screen.

App Bundles

Apple introduced App Bundles as part of iOS 8, allowing a developer to "bundle" up to 10 apps and offer it as a single purchase. Developers can creatively combine different "bundles" to provide value to a user. Bundles offer a totally new cross-promotion tool for app developers, and also bring a bit more attention to all the apps created by a single developer. 

App Previews 

Perhaps my favorite addition to the App Store, App Previews allow for a developer to create a compelling 30-second video to display on their app's App Store listing. Video continues to be a dominant form of marketing, and these previews will allow a developer to visually showcase their apps. By allowing users to preview your app before they download it, it is possible that you'll see more engaged users and fewer "zombie apps" on iOS. Creating an App Preview will certainly take some work, but can be a powerful ally in driving downloads.

App bundles and app previews are great additions to every app developer’s marketing toolkit. Both will give developers of all sizes the opportunity to attract even more potential users.
— Ariel Michaeli, appFigures

Apple Pay: Mobile payments in the mainstream

Apple introduced a new payments solution called Apple Pay that allows a user to load credit cards and securely pay using the TouchID fingerprint. As consumers get increasingly comfortable with paying for goods and services on a mobile device, the opportunity for developers to create new solutions and monetize existing apps via in-app purchases and e-commerce continues to grow.

Apple’s new Apple Pay is a great development for the entire mobile payments industry. Apple has perfected the art of enhancing technology standards to influence mainstream consumer adoption. In this case, Apple is helping drive NFC adoption and getting folks used to paying with their phones. But the best opportunity is in creating new in-store purchase experiences that inspire consumers to buy.
— Bruce Parker, ModoPayments

Apple Watch: The highly-anticipated wearable

Apple introduced its first new product line since the iPad in 2010 with the new Apple Watch. The includes a brilliant display and includes an impressive touch functionality to allow ample control by a user; a feature that has lacked in other smartwatches. Apple's ability to drive consumer trends will truly be put to the test and the Watch appears to be up to the challenge. 

The Apple Watch is the first wearable that stands to involve consumers on a broad basis. The Apple Watch should quickly open up new territory for consumer computing. As with location, camera, and accelerometer, this new form factor is one more factor that distinguishes mobile developers from any others. We want to see the Apple Watch succeed, and quickly.
— Pete Johnson, Apollo Matrix
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Posted by:

Mike Schwartz, Associate Director of Membership