Commentary

Tapping Into iPhone 6, iOS 8 Updates

With Apple yesterday announcing that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus topped 10 million in sales the first weekend, there is clearly already a healthy demand for the larger handsets. And that's on top of the 4 million pre-ordered the week before. The rollout of the new iPhones, along with the formal launch of iOS 8, also means changes for developers and marketers. Analysts and marketing experts have recently outlined how companies can take advantage of some of the updates.

Back in August, ahead of the launch, Apple had announced a pair of new ad formats to take advantage of the larger screens as part of its iAd platform: full-screen interstitial banners, and pre-roll videos. Both are intended to take over the screen within an app, delivering a more immersive experience along with the promise of higher revenue for developers.

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For developers, the larger iPhone screens -- especially the 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 6 Plus -- also may require new approaches to content layout and increased use of gesture-based interaction. Ashish Toshniwal, CEO of Y Media Labs, for instance, recently told Fast Company that the iPhone 6 Plus may spawn more of the of split-screen mode in apps seen on iPads and Android tablets, instead of presenting content in a single pane.

On the e-commerce side, the rollout of Apple Pay -- the company’s mobile payment offering -- means developers and retailers can add that option for purchases within apps, as well at checkout in select retail stores starting next month. A new Forrester report on iOS 8 suggests customers will benefit from the simplicity of Apple Pay, while businesses could see higher conversion rates and have less risk of fraud.

While adding a “Pay With Apple” button to apps for purchases may see quicker adoption, the bigger test is with the rollout of Apple Pay at point-of-sale terminals in physical stores, where mobile payments have been slow to catch on with consumers.

Apple's HomeKit and HealthKit platforms in iOS 8, unveiled in June, meanwhile, offer tools for building apps geared, respectively, to home automation and health monitoring. Forrester indicated that the HomeKit API could be used to create apps that charge devices, replace filters, unlock doors and switch off home appliances.

The opportunities for HealthKit lie primarily with healthcare providers and payers, underscored by Apple’s existing partnership with the Mayo Clinic in relation to the iPhone’s new Health app. “The Health app also offers the tantalizing possibility of collecting better long-term longitudinal data that will lead to better and more proactive treatment in the years ahead,” according to Forrester.

The research firm’s report, however, also highlighted new privacy safeguards in iOS 8, which give users more control over location data collected from them. Apps must now ask for “always” or “when in use” permission to employ location tracking. The “when in use” option only allows the user’s location to be tracked while that person is using that app. If asking for location, Forrester recommends that marketers articulate what they’re offering in a small pop-up window first. That way they have the chance to opt in.

Apple on Tuesday said almost half of users (46%) are running iOS 8 less than a week after introducing the latest version of its mobile platform. 

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