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iOS 11 and What it Means for You

Sep 19, 2017 - Blog

Last week saw the announcement of the iPhone 8 and its big sister, iPhone X, which left many business owners with live iOS apps scratching their heads.

How would their apps look on a larger screen with no home button? Would they still work on these devices?

Here are the top three takeaways for owners of existing iOS apps, or those considering a new app that takes advantage of iOS 11 features:

1. Support for iOS 9 will be dropped

2. The new ARKit brings augmented reality (AR) to the masses

3. New software development kit (SDK) changes could affect the performance of your app

iOS 11 Adoption and Development

With the release of iOS 11, support for iOS 9 will be dropped in favour of iOS 10 as the new base version. Dropping iOS 9 means we say goodbye to the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and 3 as supported devices.

What does this mean for you and your business? It’s a safe bet that the majority of your users will be running iOS 11 within a month of the OS release – last year, iOS 10 saw the quickest adoption rate yet at 54% within 30 days.

If your users are stuck on an old version of your app not optimised for the latest iOS, performance could suffer, bugs can creep into the app, and you’ll eventually lose users and accrue negative app store ratings.

A good developer will adhere to the correct standards by building iOS apps using the latest version of Swift and Xcode, so that they easily migrate to the latest OS. Not every developer does this though – if you’re concerned, contact a trusted mobile app developer pronto, especially if you have a lot of custom UI.

ARKit

The ARKit release caused a huge amount of excitement, but most developers had been experimenting with the new code for months in Beta. The beauty of the ARKit is in its simplicity – reams of complex, custom code have now been slimmed down to just a few lines.

Dozens of new industries with a variety of budgets can now afford to consider the possibilities of AR, which can help bring their products to life.

If your app holds a lot of data shown in tables, text or media, there are now far more ways you can display it using AR to gain maximum impact. ARKit can help you personalise your services for each individual – every experience will be completely unique, leading to a much higher engagement rate.

Did you watch the Apple keynote? They cited baseball as a great example; data sets and tables showing player statistics can be replaced with an AR overlay as you watch the game in the stadium – simply point your phone and all the information you could want is only a tap away.

AR-overlay

However, there are limitations; while there’s an in-built, advanced depth and texture perception, Apple has been clear that without a static environment, it will lead to a degraded experience.

For example, if you’re trying to use AR through a window of a moving vehicle where the environment is constantly changing, the app won’t be able to determine where you are as easily, and will most likely produce a below-par user experience.

SDK Updates

New machine learning elements have been added through Apple’s new neural engine which runs Face ID. The camera on the iPhone X can now learn your facial characteristics and how they change over time – an exciting concept for industries like healthcare, where such changes could provide crucial information on a patient’s condition for doctors.

Metal has been upgraded to Metal 2 (the high-quality graphics SDK primarily used for gaming apps), with better depth fields, portrait modes and camera capabilities. All these elements will be opened up to developers, as will Siri, while location services have changed giving users more control over how their location is used.

Password auto-fill settings have been updated too – while nothing major, if your app uses these tools you’ll need to fully understand how these changes will affect your app.

The major change for the iPhone X was the lack of a home button. While users welcomed the idea of a larger screen, app developers and designers groaned with the implications for current live apps.

Developers will need to use APIs to extend interfaces further, and understand how to work with the device and the new style of navigation bar.

The iPhone X has a cut-away along the top edge for the front-facing camera too. Should you edit the UI of the app to accommodate the reduced screen space? Do you have any gestures that need moving away from the bottom of the screen? Decisions need to be made.

What it Means for our Customers

The release of iOS 11 isn’t reason to panic – in many ways, it will help to enhance and improve apps, opening up new opportunities in the realms of AR for companies who previously thought it was beyond their reach.

For those who do need support though, be it bug-fixing or re-designing certain elements to ensure their app works as expected, we can provide support to deal with any issues, or build on existing functionality.

If you need guidance on updating your app for iOS 11, get in touch with us.