With Apple’s release of iOS 7 to developers this week, the mobile platform’s revamped look and feel and the launch of iTunes Radio grabbed the spotlight. But what CEO Tim Cook called the biggest overhaul of iOS since the iPhone’s launch also included updates that will affect how developers and brands market their apps on iPhones and iPads.
Among the changes affecting developers are those related to the App Store -- the key distribution hub for mobile apps along with Google Play for Android devices. In the new version of iOS 7, set for official release this fall, the “Genius” tab in the App Store is replaced with a new feature called “Near Me” that helps users find apps related to their current location.
Someone visiting the Louvre Museum, for instance, might see a list of travel-related apps for Paris or an audio tour app for the Louvre. Craig Palli, vice president of app marketing platform Fiksu, said the new feature could be a boon for small and medium-sized business to promote their apps in a given city, state or region.
The new capability could also benefit franchises business and large retail or restaurant chains trying to reach consumers locally, as well as hotel and travel marketers. “Geotargeting will be come a more effective tool for acquiring users for these verticals,” noted Joseph Deluca, mobile marketing analyst at Trademob, another app marketing service.
Another change that should aid developers in iOS 7 is the automatic updating of apps. Instead of notifications for new versions of apps stacking up on a user's device, apps will auto-update, increasing the chances for engagement.
App marketing experts also noted that the automatic updates w enables consumers to limit ad targeting. Previously, developers had relied on Media Access Control addresses -- permanent identifiers assigned to any device capable of connecting to the Web.
“These types of changes will help spur tracking standardization to measure campaign performance and ultimately result in more marketing dollars being spent on mobile with proven ROI,” said Gabriel Cheng, media director, M&C Saatchi Mobile.
In certain areas, like adding multitasking in iOS 7, marketing executives pointed out that Apple is playing catch up with Android. Even so, it’s another upgrade that could help boost interaction with apps. Similarly, Apple making notifications available on the lock screen could give developers increased visibility for messages sent to users. “An effective push notification is a primary tactic for getting users to re-engage with an app,” said DeLuca. Going overboard on that tactic, of course, could have the opposite effect, so developers should still exercise restraint in using notifications.
App marketing specialists also welcomed the opportunity for advertising in iTunes Radio, the new ad-supported music streaming service that comes with iOS 7. “In particular, the ability to match listeners of specific types of music to specific apps they might be interested in is a very effective tactic for app marketing,” said Palli, who noted that Fiksu clients have had success with ads on Pandora.
Whether the changes will be enough to help Apple recharge slowing growth is a looming question. Krishna Subramanian, CMO of mobile ad firm Velti, doesn’t believe developer enthusiasm over the iOS 7 launch will translate into higher sales.
“Apple isn’t actually stepping up to deliver any game-changing products or features,” he said. “They’re just putting more makeup on the front end of a product -- iOS 7 won’t motivate users to buy new iPhones or tablets, unless they need them.”