Apple is billing iOS 8 as “the biggest release for developers since the introduction of the App Store.” And with good reason – with over 4,000 new APIs, iOS 8 offers a bevy of new features and functionalities to help developers drive better engagement and virality while delivering better and more creative app experiences. Here are the highlights…
Taking a cue from Android, the iOS notification center is getting a major upgrade with the launch of iOS 8. Now developers will be able to deliver interactive push notifications in which they can embed direct actions. The examples provided by Apple are that you could add widgets to update your users on package deliveries, the latest surf reports, or breaking news stories. It will be interesting to see what affect these new widgets have on app open rates, but if used correctly they are almost certain to help with overall app engagement, as they offer a great way to help surface your unique features directly to the notification center without forcing users to actually open your app.
More Sharing Options
For iOS 8, Apple has opened up the platform’s inherent sharing options to all developers, so that now you can allow your users to quickly and easily share photos, videos and just about any other type of content with social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others. You’ll have to experiment with which types of content you’ll allow users to share and where it makes the most sense within your app to insert these sharing options. But as long as they’re not inserted too often (in which case they might become annoying), these new social sharing options should help ignite virality and draw new users into your app.
App Store Upgrades
With more than 1.2 million apps in the App Store, Apple has vowed to make discoverability simpler for consumers in its latest OS update. For instance, the App Store will now feature faster searches, with continuously scrolling results and a list of related results, as well as an “explore” tab to help users find what they’re looking for by browsing for it. The App Store will also now make app previews available to let users watch a video trailer of your app before deciding if they want to download it, as well as app bundles so that they can download a collection of apps all at once. Apple has also finally integrated with TestFlight so your most fanatic users (and the press) can download beta versions of your app before it becomes generally available.
These next three new updates are designed specifically for game developers, who should be practically drooling over iOS 8. SceneKit incorporates a physics engine and a particle generator to help developers render game scenes in 3D. Apple says that SceneKit is primarily designed for casual game developers, and it should help them create better animated scenes and special effects, especially those that involve gravitational pull.
First released in iOS 7 to help create high-performance, battery-efficient 2D games, SpriteKit has been updated for iOS 8 to include custom Open GL ES shaders and lighting and new scene editors within Xcode. These updates should help in-game characters move more naturally and enable developers to create better lighting and shading effects. SpriteKit and SceneKit are fully integrated with each other so developers can get the best of both kits whether their games are rendered in 2D or 3D.
While SceneKit and SpriteKit are primarily for casual game developers, Metal is designed for hardcore games. It offers a robust framework to allow developers to get maximum performance from the A7 and A8 chips of the latest iPhone and iPad devices. Optimized to allow the CPU and GPU to work together, Metal should enable those highly immersive core gaming experiences to be delivered faster, smoother and more seamlessly than ever before.
There are a ton of other new features in iOS 8 for developers to take advantage of, but these are probably the most important new updates to help you market your app or create a better, more engaging app experience. Will you be among the first to implement them? If so, drop us a line to let us know what your experience was like and whether the new features had an impact on your KPIs.