We have had enough time to rest after the WWDC hangover and digest the new features around iOS 8. Apple has bet for a bunch of capabilities to make the iOS devices connect with the physical world.
One of the highlights has been HomeKit. Apple has worked with the lead producers on home automation devices to build up a hub application, that unifies the interaction with all of them. From the developer point of view, the fact of being able to interact with all those devices is also interesting. Therefore, we are eager to see lot of innovation by creative developers. We can imagine interesting applications mixing up Philips Hue and Sonos Speakers creating the most appropiate atmospheres in your living room for every moment.
From the iBeacon ecosystem perspective, it would be great if the beacon hardware manufacturers could provide access to beacons via HomeKit. That could improve a lot the setting them up and maintenance of them. That’s actually something we would like to add into Doug Thompson’s Challenger for iBeacon Manufacturers list on beekn blog.
Apple seems to start being more open with the usage of their APIs. There has been lot of criticism, as Android allows flawless integration across applications. Now, with App entensions Apple is allowing custom functionality within the context of a user task. They are opening media and document sharing, photo editing, storage providers, and even the use of third-party keyboards.
iOS users will not feel envy towards Android ones regarding notification and widgets. iOS 8 is adding them. Developers can now customize notifications allowing quick actions from there. The user experience would be now redefined around notifications, bringing richer interaction. Devices running Android 4.1 and above have already experienced somehow these kind of custom notifications. On the other hand, Apple seems to go further with deeper customization with this OS update.
iBeacon was not even mentioned on the WWDC Keynote, but there are interesting news around it. Time to give the reason for the ones that speculated about the year of the iBeacon. AppleInsider has reported that iOS 8 is showing an unobstrusive notification show up on the device lock screen. On the privacy side, Apple is allowing the users, to allow location access while using the app, always or never.
Moreover, MapKit introduces map internal spaces. Since we saw that Apple bought a patent about it, we were expecting that sooner or later. Now, businesses can register for indoor mapping. We guess using WiFi, and perhaps iBeacon hardware. Map internal spaces can enrich the user experience for applications where indoor directions might be helpful, such as apps for museums, shopping malls,… or, for instance, security applications to guide the user to the emergency exits. Possibilities are endless. Talking about security, Apple is opening Touch ID to third-party apps, allowing developers to grant user access using the fingerprint security hardware (currently only available in iPhone 5S, though it will probably be included in next generation iOS devices).
Users use their devices & apps for multiple use cases. Depending on the use case, some prefer continuing or completing the usage flow in one device or another. This can be the case in a payment process, where users would like to end up paying in the computer, as they are more used to. Apple is releasing Continuity to make their products work better together (iOS 8 & OS X Yosemite), making easier this flow for switching between devices.
Some other features were announced, like Swift (new programming language), but we consider them out of scope of this non-technical article. For more information, you can check Apple’s developer iOS 8 site.
New features are bringing cool stuff, but could bring inconveniences if not implemented properly. We should not irrupt with annoying and useless notifications. We should add value and enrich the user experience, always considering users privacy. We believe that now is the moment to think on what should be your business strategy around notifications and real world interaction to power up your business in the right direction.