Everyone talks about the hardware, but the greatest amount of iPhone news each year is related to software updates. And to stay competitive on the App Store, it’s key to keep up with what’s happening and implement relevant features early. It’s also important to keep up with user experience, performance and battery enhancements.
Apple actually rewards developers that implement new functionality early on by promoting and giving them more prominent positioning on the App Store.
iOS 10 had at least 50 new major features for end-users such as note collaboration, split view, and Live Photos Editing. Add to that another 50+ features and enhancements for developers including interactive notifications, SiriKit, HomeKit accessories, Haptics, integration with messenger and Smart Card API.
The challenge is that developers are not given much time to implement new features between the announcement in June and release in September. Therefore, here’s an overview of what we expect to be coming in iOS 11, so that you can start preparing now.
There’s a good chance that this will be a major release in many ways being that it is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Here are 6 things that product owners and developers of iOS apps should care about:
1. Indoor Maps + Outdoor Location
Google is mapping the world and Apple wants to do the same. Apple might actually have an advantage here thanks to their ad-free approach.
What we know is that Apple has been mapping out hundreds, if not thousands, of indoor venues to be able to guide customers better. For anyone interested in indoor location, navigation and maps, they should get prepared, or more discretely contact Apple, now.
2. Dark Mode
The Dark Mode is a special theme which will use dark colors to produce a soft visual experience, turning your iPhone into an angel in the night as OLED technology lights up individual pixels without requiring backlighting.
Dark interfaces could reduce the power consumption of a display, which is one of the reasons why the Apple Watch uses a black background. The current iOS version is primarily based on white backgrounds, so this could be a big potential shift if customers prefer the dark mode.
3. In-camera Augmented Reality
AR will allow the iPhone camera to recognize objects. Simply put, if you see a flower but don’t know the name, point the camera at it and you’ll find out what flower it is. In reality, this is image recognition and not really an augmented reality, but we are certain that Apple can turn it into something big and unique.
What will this mean for brands? Most likely they will provide some kind of API for interpreting/uploading images, so have your image database and meta content ready if you want to play the game.
4. Siri Update
Siri has fallen behind a lot in functionality and integration compared to Alexa, Google Now and Microsoft Cortana during the last year. It’s therefore very likely that Apple will launch a major overhauled version including features such as a more natural sounding voice and better AI/machine learning powered by VocalIQ (acquired by Apple). The key difference is that this will enable Siri to support longer complex searches and, more importantly, remember previous searches, the context and improve over time.
For developers, this means that iPhone users could begin using Siri for a lot more than setting the alarm clock and dictating messages.
5. UX/UI Updates
The last major UX update was iOS 7 with flat design. With a new OLED screen, there’s a pretty big chance there will be other updates to the UI than just dark mode. Samsung played with this on the curved Edge devices which didn’t work out very well, but maybe Apple can get it right?
6. Progressive Web App Support
A major shift for developers will be if Apple adds support for Progressive Web Apps (PWA) in Safari. Apple will never allow Android to offer a better browser UI in the long term, but neither will they follow in Google’s steps. Maybe we will see an Apple version of PWA.
Now some developers will argue that iOS already supports most of the PWA requirements, but based on our experience this is not true.
Finally, some of the updates above are speculation on our side, could just be rumours, or are planned for a later date (iOS 10.3 provided several unexpected updates). We are also certain that there will be a lot of new things that neither we, or the rumour mill at large, anticipated.
All we can say is, make sure that you’ve got enough resources and time over the summer to keep up with Apple’s roadmap and make the most out of it. For more details, you can follow Macworld’s ongoing rumour updates.
Magnus Jern, Chief Innovation Officer