In terms of profits, iOS is still the most attractive platform for mobile developers, iPhone users place apps higher in their priority list and use them more diversely. Today, the most used app categories across all platforms are social networking, games, and communication. However, Apple’s iOS 8 will open up an opportunity for much wider and more meaningful use than that, and it’s going to happen thanks to independent developers.
Here are 5 ways iOS 8 will impact our community:
Quantified self, wearables, and healthcare apps have been recognized as some of the game-changing trends of coming years. The VC funding of healthcare startups has been rapidly growing, the adoption of iPads in health care has been equally fast, and the wearables category has many enthusiasts.
The introduction of HealthKit is quite a notable advancement on that front. It allows users to integrate health data into new apps including Health app, which acts as a centralized storage place for all their health information. Users can get a big-picture look at their entire health profile: exercise, sleep and eating habits, or blood pressure and glucose levels. This opens up an opportunity for a whole new range of apps.
Aside from self-tracking, the app clearly wants to make it possible for users to share their health information with doctors. For example, as a pilot project, Apple partnered with Mayo Clinic, which developed an app providing actionable tips or prompts to contact the doctor based on the user’s data.
In the recent Andreessen Horowitz podcast, VC and entrepreneur Marc Andreessen discussed how everything around us will become smart in the following decades. We can see this trend happening now, fueled by the hardware revolution and the rise of crowdfunding.
HomeKit represents a big step forward in the path to the truly smart home. Soon it will be possible to control your lights, home security, thermostat, fridge, and other devices using your iPhone alone. Combine this with the developer’s ability to leverage Siri and you get not just another range of opportunities in app and hardware development, but also a pretty positive outlook for taking your smart home to a different level.
An exciting thing about iOS 8 is a technology called CloudKit that enables developers to create a seamless experience between mobile and desktop apps. Developers gain access to a new data store that is automatically shared among all users of their apps, which simplifies the creation of apps built around multi-user interaction or collaboration. This set of tools may greatly impact the type of apps we see in the future. And with Box going for a considerable IPO and Dropbox reaching 300 million users, it’s not difficult to see how dynamic this market is.
Security fears are one of the main reasons many businesses fail to convert traffic into paying customers. When The Federal Reserve surveyed consumers in 2013 about their use of financial and payment apps, almost 50 percent of respondents cited security as their major concern. Security is one of the main concerns in markets such as health apps and e-commerce too.
iOS 8 offers several new security features. Third-party apps will be able to use Touch ID to protect the user data within their app. The extra layer of protection definitely beats the standard and offers users a quick and secure login. Together with other iOS 8 features, the extra security opens up opportunities in enterprise, healthcare, finance, and payments markets, where security matters the most.
The number of apps in the App Store has reached over 1.3 million — that is a lot of competition. The way app developers market their apps in the store makes a great impact on their customer acquisition strategy and on the overall health of their business (high customer acquisition costs are among top startup killers).
With iOS 8, the App Store is getting some major updates that will give developers new ways to be found and to stand out. One of the most interesting new possibilities is video previews — this brings a new dimension to app store experiences and will likely affect the app rankings too. Another feature is the new explore tab, which gives users the ability to browse categories with greater ease. There are also “editor’s choice” tags and a new preview feature, making this space something developers should pay close attention to. After all, you’re not in business if you can’t reach your customers.
Mark McDonald is co-founder and director of app development company Appster.