New features in iOS 8 will help CMOs reimagine their mobile apps to better reach iPhone and iPad customers in the critical “mobile moment” — a small window of opportunity to pitch a marketing message effectively. For CIOs with in-house app-making factories, it’s time to get busy.
There are more than 4,000 new application programming interfaces in iOS 8, with many aimed at making the mobile consumer’s life easier. Yet taking advantage of these opportunities won’t be easy or cheap. The cost of creating and developing apps could increase by up to 20 percent, according to a Forrester report.
Forrester has highlighted 10 ways CMOs and CIOs can improve their consumer-facing mobile apps and seize the mobile moment with iOS 8.
1. With iOS 8, Apple has given third-party access to Touch ID for scanning thumbprints on the home button to verify identify. It’s a good idea for companies to add this feature into their apps. The thinking goes that companies should make identification verification as mindless as possible. Customers drop out of app and purchase processes with each extra click or required step, Forrester says, and authentication is one of those steps.
2. Apple’s newly unveiled Apple Pay service promises to finally usher in the era of the mobile wallet. Apple’s scale and key partnerships, not to mention massive sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus — a record-smashing 10 million units in the first three days — gives Apple Pay real potential. If Apple Pay does take off, companies will want to be out in front with their Apple Pay-enabled apps.
3. Apple iOS 8 makes it harder for third-party apps to track a user’s location. Apps must now give the user the option to let an app “always” track location or only “when in use” or not at all. While this makes it more difficult for marketers to capture the mobile moment by, say, serving up a coupon when a customer is near a store, the opportunity lies in the idea that you can earn the “always” designation and beat competitors that can’t.
“First, ensure that if you do ask for location, you are offering value to the consumer that you can articulate in a small pop-up window; second, consider alternatives to sniffing out the location of your customers,” the Forrester report advises. “Your best-case scenario is if they self-identify in a location through a code scan, via NFC, or by checking in.”
4. The notification system in iOS 8 doesn’t just provide snippets of information but also allows users to perform actions, such as deleting an email and replying to a tweet. For CMOs, notifications are critical for reaching a customer in the mobile moment, much more effective than a user having to fire up an app. Add in the ability to do something, such as hit the “buy” button, and you’ve got a marketer’s dream.
“An airline could obtain permission from a passenger to rebook her on a later flight if she is running late,” the Forrester report says. “Alternatively, a credit card company could request permission from a parent for a charge on a child’s credit card.”
5. iOS 8 supports app extensions for widgets on the Today screen and importing-exporting functionality in a company’s app. What does this mean? CMOs of airlines, for instance, can have a widget on the Today screen that lets passengers check in for flights. Or an iPhone owner can print a sales receipt from a credit card app. These are just a couple of examples cited by the Forrester report.
6. Apple’s HomeKit in iOS 8 lets apps communicate with appliances in the home. This opens up an entirely new market and ecosystem for companies to sell services, accessories and connected devices with complementary iOS apps that control them or give owners important information about them.
Forrester report’s take: “Apps today monitor connected products for usage and performance. Based on these inputs, apps can send reminders to charge devices, sync data, replace filters, or switch products off, for example.”
7. In a similar vein, Apple’s HealthKit in iOS 8 lets apps communicate with other apps and devices that monitor various aspects of an Apple device owner’s health. Data gleaned from HealthKit can be collected and analyzed and used to offer ways to improve one’s health.
Forrester report’s take: “The opportunities to leverage HealthKit lie primarily, though not exclusively, with healthcare providers and payers. Both payers and providers can get more extensive and accurate health data, enabling them to reward consumers for good health choices that lower the cost of care.”
8. Consumers often use multiple devices such as an iPad and MacBook before arriving at the iPhone’s mobile moment. This means CMOs can’t think mobile only. Apple has created the Handoff feature in iOS 8 that works with OS X to create a seamless experience where tasks are “handed off” between the two operating systems. It’s an important feature that should be built into the mobile experience: Forrester surveyed digital business professionals, and 44 percent said their primary aim with mobile is to offer a consistent experience across devices.
9. The iPhone 6 Plus boasts a 5.5-inch screen size, while the iPhone 6 has a slightly larger screen size than its predecessor. That’s extra valuable real estate CMOs and their apps can use to market their messages, enhance the brand and provide even more features. Great, right? Not so much if you’re the CIO who now has to design apps for multiple screen sizes. CIOs might be tempted to shrink the iPad app into the iPhone 6 Plus screen, but Forrester advises against this. The iPad often connects via WiFi, while the iPhone tends to use the cellular network — and the different apps reflect this, Forrester says.
10. With extension APIs, iOS 8 supports custom keyboards and their special characters and shortcuts, as well the ability to change input methods from typing to swiping. Sure, it doesn’t sound like much. But CMOs can make it easier for customers by bringing up a keyboard that better fits the app’s needs or maybe replace Apple’s soft keyboard with a simple swipe. After all, in the mobile moment, every second counts.