Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the release of Apple’s new operating system, iOS 9 – if only because of the controversy the new font apparently stirred up. But as you can probably imagine, the new, shiny toy for iPhone and iPad users has more implications than just a new typeface. In fact, its new features should have a noticeable impact on your Apple app development strategy.
The single biggest change in iOS 9 from an app development standpoint is undoubtedly the new Deep Linking feature. Thanks to an update in the operating system’s linking infrastructure, apps can now communicate seamlessly with one another.
From a user perspective, that means clicking on a link to one app within another no longer opens the mobile version of that app’s website; instead, it automatically triggers the other app to open. For example, you may browse your New York Times app and find an article you’d love to share. A simple click opens your preferred social media network, while a “back” arrow lets you go back to your article once you’ve shared it.
For iOS developers, the new deep linking functionality is simple. And not just because of its advantages for users, but also thanks to another new feature:
Users have been able to use the OS-internal search function on their iPhones and iPads for quite some time now. But they have never been able to use it as a reliable web search engine and potential Google replacement, which is precisely what Apple seeks to accomplish in iOS 9.
The new iOS search combines its previous, inner-app functionality with the ability to browse the web. Apple’s own web crawlers now scan millions of websites similar to Google and Bing, all in an effort to convince iOS users about the functionality and elegance of this new all-in-one search solution.
Why does that matter? The answer brings us back to Deep Linking. As you might know, search engine optimization depends (among other aspects) on how many external links you get to your site, showcasing your credibility to search engines like Google and Bing. The same is true for the new iOS search, which means that these new, seamless links between apps can actually help your app appear higher in search results.
For developers, Deep Linking and Search combine to open up powerful app optimization possibilities. Making all of your app content searchable is an absolute requirement.
Multitasking and Split Screen
You may have heard: iOS 9 allows iPad users to effectively multitask for the first time in the device’s history, thanks to the new split screen technology. Of course, that change could significantly impact the way you design your app.
Does your iOS app focus on productivity? Is it an SaaS app or any other type of application that requires or encourages regular multitasking? If so, be sure to keep in mind just how efficiently you have to design that app,in more ways than one.
One, even an iPad-exclusive app should be both beautiful and functional in smaller sizes. And two, because your app will run parallel to another, effective use of resources – such as limited memory usage during your app’s core functions – becomes absolutely necessary. Otherwise, your app will slow the device down and user experience will worsen.
Of course, these are just a few of the changes that iOS 9 has brought about for Apple app developers. Other new features, such as app thinning and new developer tools, can also make an impact on how you design your iOS app to ensure optimal functionality and user experience.
Do you have an Apple app that, in light of the recent release of iOS 9, is in dire need of an update? If so, contact us! We’d love to help you make sure that your app will be ready for 2016 and beyond.