Apple WWDC 2017: Take-Aways and Opportunities

What’s in store for businesses with iOS 11?

In this year’s WWDC, Apple introduced a whole lot of updates to get excited about and start experimenting with in new and existing apps — from immersion with ARKit and machine learning with Core ML to the App Store redesign in iOS 11 and the powerful new features on iPad.

We wanted to investigate what’s new in store and how these updates can benefit the various markets we work in. This blog highlights a few of the ways to make use of Apple’s updates in building smarter, more engaging and user-driven business and consumer apps.

ARKit

What is it?

ARKit is a new API in iOS 11 that enables the creation of compelling augmented reality (AR) experiences using iOS devices. Instead of wearing a headset or having to be tethered to a high powered computer, the user is able to have a virtual experience by simply holding up their device and moving it around.

Once iOS 11 is released, iOS will instantly become the largest AR platform in the world.

“By blending digital objects and information with the environment around you, ARKit takes apps beyond the screen, freeing them to interact with the real world in entirely new ways.” — Apple

How can it be useful for businesses?

There are many potential use cases for leveraging AR in your existing apps, as well as creating entirely new experiences or apps that take full advantage of AR. Some examples:

  • If you have a transport app, show the nearest bus stops and their distances as the user holds their phone up and looks around. A virtual bus could also be shown to indicate its distance and direction.
  • If your business is in commerce, show the user your product before they purchase it. Since real world distances can be easily mapped in ARKit, products such as cars, furniture, electronics, food, etc can be shown to scale in the real world. Companies such as IKEA will be implementing this in their updated apps, to allow users to see how furniture will fit into their home, before assembling it.
  • If you’re creating games, map your virtual environment to the real world to fully immerse your users.

Examples

Core ML

What is it?

Core ML is a new API in iOS 11 that makes it easier to leverage machine learning (ML) in apps. Before Core ML, if you wanted to use ML in your app you would need to be knowledgeable in ML to create, train, and then run prediction models on iOS.

With Core ML, Apple has standardised a way to run prediction models on iOS with just a few lines of code. When used in conjunction with the new Vision API, app developers will be able to create quite complex vision systems on mobile which were previously not possible. (The creation and training of prediction models will still need to be done by a machine learning expert off device.)

Build more intelligent apps with machine learning
“Core ML delivers blazingly fast performance with easy integration of machine learning models, enabling you to build apps with intelligent new features using just a few lines of code.” — Apple

How can it be useful for businesses?

If your business already uses trained machine learning models, then these models can be easily converted to iOS compatible versions. This would enable you to run the models in real time on the user’s device, instead of reaching out to your server for predictions. Some examples:

  • If you are an insurance company, you could deploy your insurance premium models (or a subset of them) directly on the user’s device. The user would then be able to receive real time and immediate insurance premium quotes.
  • If your business is a marketplace, you could have prediction models on the user’s device which tell them the predicted price of an item they want to buy or sell, instantly.
  • If you are a security company, you could use photos or the user’s camera to detect potential threats or authorised users.

Examples

iPad updates

What is it?

With iOS 11, the iPad has become increasingly more versatile and flexible. One of the reasons why is the Drag and Drop mode, letting you easily swipe content from one active app to another and use Split View mode to further boost productivity.

The new Split View for iPad

There’s also the upgraded Dock, allowing users to store up to thirteen apps in iOS 11. Combined with the list of hardware power-ups, the iPad now comes closer than ever to working similar to a PC laptop.

“iOS 11 brings iPad to life like never before. New features and capabilities let you get more done, more quickly and easily, making it a phenomenally powerful and personal experience.” — Apple

How can it be useful for businesses?

Combined with the multitasking updates in previous iOS releases, the iPad can now be used as a professional grade PC replacement in most cases.

  • Using the software and hardware users already love on iOS, iOS 11 makes it easier to move data between apps while working on them. For example, you can use Split View mode to drag and drop points of interest on a map directly into an email.
  • You can keep your favourite apps in the new Dock for easy access, split screening, and drag and dropping.
The new iPad dock

Examples

New App Store

What is it?

There is a first for everything, and Apple puts the saying into practice by redesigning its App Store app for the first time. In terms of visual elements, the new App Store design is more clean, colourful and similar to Apple News and Apple Music.

Apps are grouped into tabs (‘Today’, ‘Games’ and ‘Apps’) and the new homepage highlights the app of the day. Apple makes it easier to discover apps, and offers in-depth information to help users decide what to download — including reviews, editorial stories, themed lists and more.

The App Store, fully redesigned
“The app product page has been redesigned to focus on the details you need when deciding what to download.” — Apple

How can it be useful for businesses?

It started with the News app, then the Music app, and now the App Store app. Apple’s updated design language is making its way throughout iOS 11, so now is the time to ensure your app design reflects the updated style. Bolder and larger headings, more dynamic content that brings delight everyday, and subtle but automatic animations and videos.

Examples


What’s next?

ARKit as a powerful new platform for augmented reality, on-device machine learning with Core ML, new ways to deliver apps to users, and the most advanced iPad in history. Apple has made it much easier to create and deliver apps that are smart and immersive, and help businesses to rise above their competitors in innovative and thrillingly creative ways.

Our teams are already translating the learnings into PoCs, and prototyping the most promising outcomes. If you are as excited as we are and wish to find out what this can do for your business and app, contact us.


The Mobile Company

We’re an award-winning Amsterdam-based mobile agency, working with leading companies and well-known brands to create apps for millions of users. We post about cool tech, awesome projects and other fun stuff. Want to chat? Get in touch. Learn more at www.themobilecompany.com.

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