Following 2017’s WWDC keynote, Apple announced many changes to their array of devices, including the Mac, iPad, Apple Watch and introduced the new HomePod. But most importantly to us, they revealed iOS 11. So to ensure you make the most of the latest operating system, we’ve reviewed the latest features, explain how they might impact your mobile apps and help you to start preparing your app for iOS 11.

With every release of a new operating system, Apple favour the apps that are ready for it from launch day. Which means if you update your app or add some of its new features, it will perform better in the App Store than outdated apps. So what can iOS 11 do for you…

The all-new App Store

An all-new App Store has been released, with changes to the design, app product pages, in-app payments and functionality. A full rundown of changes can be found on Apple’s The All-New App Store page, but here are a few significant changes.

When opening the App Store, users are greeted with new cards, which show the top App news of the day. They can also browse through dedicated tabs to find what they are looking for. But most importantly for us, the new product pages feature new text fields. Such as subtitles and promotional text, giving you more places to convey your apps qualities.

Apple will also increase the app previews from one to three. Which means you have more opportunity to showcase your app to potential users. So if you haven’t utilised app previews before, it’s time to consider adding them to your app product page.

Another huge change that comes with iOS 11 is the ability to promote in-app purchases within the App Store. Allowing customers to discover and make in-app purchases directly on the App Store. This gives you additional exposure before your app is even downloaded. You have the opportunity to promote up to 20 in-app purchases, which can also appear in search results.

Finally, the new App Store has an enhanced search, helping to make your app more discoverable. Search results will now include developers, in-app purchases, categories and editorial stories.

Phased releases for App Store Updates

Up till now, Apple have forced an app update to all users at the same time. With the introduction of “phased releases” developers have the opportunity to release updates to only a specific set of users before releasing it to everyone.

This will become particularly useful if you want to trial a new feature on a small audience set before rolling it out fully. Or if your app has a high volume of users, it could potentially stagger updates to ensure your server infrastructure isn’t impacted all at once.

iOS 11 introduces ARKit

One of the biggest announcements from WWDC17 includes the release of ARKit. A new framework offering Native Augmented Reality. The new ARKit provides a new platform for developing augmented reality for both the iPhone and iPad. It features positional tracking and scene understanding, which will transform apps like Pokémon Go alongside a number of other games.

Even if you aren’t developing a gaming app, the ARKit brings huge opportunities for many apps, particularly those with real world components, for example; entertainment, construction, property and manufacturing.

The new iMessage App Drawer

We saw huge changes to iMessage in iOS 10, and iOS 11 features more refined and intelligent updates. The new “app drawer” in gives users the ability to quickly access iMessage apps, in additional to discovering and installing new iMessage apps directly.

Although this might not directly impact your app, it will change how users interact with iMessage, and therefore the usability they might expect elsewhere. For more details on this particular update we suggest reading Apple’s What’s New in iMessage Apps section.

Machine Learning supports intelligent apps

Apple initially released machine learning in iOS 10 and have extended its functionality in iOS 11 with Core ML. Core ML enables us to build apps with intelligent new features, such as face tracking, landmark and barcode detection, object tracking and image registration. By integrating trained machine learning models into your apps we can enhance your users experience. For instance, using a model that has been trained on a regions historical house prices may be able to predict a house’s price when it comes to market. This will become particularly useful for industries including property, financial, sports and general business management.

Access to all NFC tags

It may seem like a small new feature, but iOS 11 allows iPhone 7 users to scan all generic NFC tags. This becomes particularly useful in scenarios where NFC tags are required, such as stock taking, security and within physical spaces such as shops or cinemas.

Users gain control over location services

As users become more aware of their location data, iOS 11 allows users to restrict the gathering of location data by any third-party app, allowing it to only access the devices location status when the app is in use. In all previous operating systems this setting was only available to the user if an app offered it. Aside from improving a devices battery life by restricting GPS background activity, the update gives users much more control.

iOS 11 Refines Visual Design Language

In iOS 10 Apple Music received a number of minor visual changes, including larger font sizes and thicker typefaces. In iOS 11 the App Store seems to have followed suit. This is particularly important to those developing apps, as it indicates a slow transition to a new design. Apple consistently push great design, so it’s important to take note of these new design cues.

Preparing your app for iOS 11

Ahead of the full launch in September, we suggest you check your app. Check it for compatibility issues, and consider updating some of your features. If you’d like to find out more, give us a call on +44 (0) 1737 45 77 88.

Whilst you’re here … Are you ready for GDPR?

We’ve written an overview of everything you need to be aware about to make sure your App is GDPR compliant. View the full article here.