Apple introduced its annual refresh of the iPhone this week, at a special event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. In addition to the new iPhone 7, Apple also introduced the Apple Watch Series 2, announced the release date for iOS 10, and surprising everyone, an iOS-first infinite runner Super Mario title from Nintendo, demonstrated by Shigeru Miyamoto himself.
The important news for publishers and developers is that iOS 10 will be available to all on Tuesday, September 13th.
Black is the New Black
The newest iPhone boasts all the usual improvements; lighter, faster processor, improved battery, brighter screen, and all the usual nicer improvements. The home button is no longer mechanical, but is a force-touch object, relying on the improved new taptic engine. If you have an app, you’re probably already ready to take advantage of these features, as they’re more or less the same type of improvements we see every year.
But there’s more – Photography apps should be ready to take advantage of the iPhone 7’s new camera. Touting it as “the best smartphone camera ever,” the new camera has optical image stabilization and a 6 element lens with f/1.8 aperture. Apple claims it’s 60% faster than previous iPhones, with its image process doing a mind-boggling number of calculations per second. The iPhone 7+ adds a second camera for optical zoom as well.
It also supports RAW image files for the first time. This will enable far more in-depth editing of fine details and color balances. Being able to take advantage of the optical zoom on the 7+, and the improved front-facing camera for selfies will keep a photography app at the front and center of a feature Apple clearly considers on of the biggest selling features of new iPhones.
AirPods and Audio Quality
True to rumors, the worst-kept iPhone 7 design feature has been the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack for standard headphones, and a move to Lightning connector-based earphones.
Despite including an adapter in the box, customers are already lamenting the inability to charge while listening to music. Apple also introduced wireless AirPods, its first foray into wireless earpieces since the pretty but poorly received Apple Bluetooth Headset in 2007.
One of the neatest little tricks audio apps will be able to take advantage of is the AirPods’ ability to tell if they’re in your ear or not. When not placed in the ear, there’s no music. By leveraging the knowledge that when there’s audio going, someone is listening, audio apps can make sure users never miss a beat or an important part of an audiobook or podcast.
Moving to Lightning for standard headphones will allow greater control of what sounds come out of a users’ earbuds. While the main benefits of this will be realized by hardware manufacturers, audio apps will be able to safely focus on quality without wondering if it will be wasted by a $10 pair of bargain bin headphones.
Keep an eye out for more Lightning headphones in the months to come, and more wireless. Apple took the first move here, and like switching from 30-pin to Lightning, which was also accompanied by much wailing and gnashing of teeth, this is sure to be a minor issue over time.
Pre-Orders for Mobile and App Store Updates
Not just for hardware anymore. Those wanting to download the ‘Super Mario Run’ game can now push a ‘Notify’ button in place of the ‘Get’ option on other apps.
The new feature doesn’t specify what the price of a given app will be (if any).
Apple hasn’t said whether this function is unique to Mario yet, but if not, this type of notification system for hot new apps will be a great way for mobile publishers to move their user acquisition cycle forward a little bit, running UA ads before release, and boosting their day 1 download numbers even further.
While Apple’s consumer-focused event didn’t touch on many of the upcoming changes to the App Store, changes are coming. App names will now be limited to 50 characters, in an effort to make the App Store easier to search. Apple will also be cleaning house in the App store soon, saying in a note to developers, “We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps for these issues, notifying their developers, and removing problematic and abandoned apps from the App Store.”
Apple will also enable auto-renewable subscriptions for all apps, including starting to charge customers after a free trial.
Auto-renewable subscriptions give users access to content or services from within your app on an ongoing basis. According to the Apple Developer documentation, at the end of each subscription duration, the subscription will automatically renew until a user chooses to cancel it.
This subscription service will be a huge boost for premium video services, as well as open the door for service oriented utility apps like home security, smart home apps, and more.
Watching the Apple Watch
The Apple Watch Series 2 also adds water resistance, making it finally able to be used by swimmers. With a neat little trick of clearing water out of the unit by using special speaker vibrations in the watch, it seems Apple is finally giving fitness app makers as much information as possible to give users the perfect workout tool.
Enabling lap tracking for swimmers (or reading it from Apple’s API) will make the Apple Watch Series 2 a great companion to a fully-featured workout app. Adding dedicated GPS and offline storage for running and hiking apps will help bring in more users who might be using dedicated GPS watches currently. Developers and publishers with these kinds of apps should be prepared for some demanding enthusiasts!
All the normal improvements will also arrive on the watch – brighter, lighter, and faster. A new bright white ceramic finish has been added to the lineup, and a special Nike edition of the Apple Watch may tempt some fitness fans who have resisted the pull of the device so far.
Pokémon Go will be arriving on the Apple Watch soon as well. Given Niantic’s original position of not wanting an Apple Watch version, it seems the benefits of the new features for even apps of all types is self-evident. It’s safe to say that opening the software on the Apple Watch, and adding instant launch, will give developers and publishers many more avenues to interact with users.
Prepare for More
There’s always more little tricks and features to a new version of iOS (which Apple didn’t have much new to say about) and new Apple hardware than Apple lets on. Between now and the release of both software and hardware, new facts will come to light that developers will be able to tap into and take advantage of.
If we see anything that looks like our partners can use, we’ll be sure to share it on the blog, and on social media.
Join the Conversation
What did you think of Apple’s event? Ready to order the iPhone 7? Will Tim Cook have to pry your analog headphones from your cold, dead hands? Tweet your thoughts to @AdColony. For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow @AdColony on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on Linkedin.