What’s New With Apple’s iOS 14?
On June 26, 2020, Apple released a preview for the iOS 14, to land in fall 2020. With the beta version public to developers, the tech world is going wild for its exciting, new features. This looks to be a more personalized, intelligent, and intuitive operating system than any of its predecessors. Apple has introduced widgets to curate apps on the homescreen, plus features such as App Clips and Messages, and the ability to use call and video features in collapsed mode, for optimized multitasking. But what does the iOS 14 look like for push notifications?
iOS 14 and Its New Approach to Apps
iOS 14 is the result of Apple’s developers working to make a more intuitive, user-friendly interface. A lot of pain points iPhone users have complained about in the past have been fixed. For example, when you receive a phone call while using your device, the alert will now appear at the bottom, rather than at the top where it gets in the way of what you’re doing.
Navigational features let you navigate back through previously used apps. And the capability Back Tap lets users set up a Morse Code of tapping on the back of the phone to execute functions such as screenshots, changing the volume, and more. And Messages allows you to customize your chats to your liking. This includes features for pinning priority chats, and using Memoji options for profile photos.
App Clips is the iOS 14 feature making the most waves. In their press release, Apple describes it as:
“a small part of an app experience designed to be discovered the moment it is needed.”
Essentially, it looks to be a function for exploring and maneuvering the world of apps, even the ones you don’t have. Any product or service that you come across in the real world, if you scan its QR code (or the soon-to-launch App Clip Code), App Clips will instantly bring up their app for you to open. The user can then user whatever part of the app they have a need for, and once it has served its purpose, App Clips disappears. This as great news for both users who don’t want to commit to installing every app that they have a need for. It’s also good news for apps, as it allows them to reach out and offer a taster to possible users who may be on the fence. (Incidentally, this has already existed on Android phones as the “Instant Apps” feature.)
This will make using apps seamless with daily living. (For iPhone users; this feature already exists on Android in the form of “Instant Apps.) It will also let users branch out and use a broader variety of apps that they wouldn’t have downloaded in full, whether due to being in a hurry or lacking interest.
Apple users are also excited that the iOS 14 will bring “data rich” widgets for grouping apps. They will be modeled after the widgets used for Apple Watch, and will be stackable and with different sizes you can choose from. You can find specific widgets in the Widget Gallery, which clocks, Apple News, Weather, Calendar, and many undisclosed others to have widgets.
App Library is a new feature that comes with iOS 14, and appears at the end of your home screen. This serves to file different categories of apps, without users having to do it manually.
This allows for a more streamlined interface, as users can now archive certain apps they don’t want appearing on their home screens. You know how every restaurant has its own app that you need to download to order takeaway food? Keep those apps from cluttering up your screen by cataloguing them in the App Library, which lets you pull them up when you need them.
iOS 14’s New Privacy Features
As Apple begins to take data privacy more seriously, it has introduced quite a few features that put data security back into the users’ hands. Firstly, the operating system now requires all apps to obtain user permission before tracking users. In a push for greater transparency, all App Store app listings will include summaries of their privacy policies. They will be written in easy-to-understand language, and accessible to users. Users will also have the option to share their approximate location with apps, as opposed to exact location.
Most interesting of all is the feature in which a light will flash in the corner of the device’s screen whenever an app is using your microphone or camera. And in the Control Center, you can access information on how recently the app has accessed those tools. Overall, Apple is making great strides in the move to return control to users of when and how apps collect their data.
What Does This Mean for Push Notifications?
The change that will have the biggest impact on the mobile industry is Apple’s new approach to tracking users. From iOS 14 and on, Apple will default all device to limiting ad tracking by apps. Thus, if an app wishes to track a user’s actions across different apps and browsers, it will have to specifically ask that user for permission. And they must be explicit in what they will use the tracked data for, as seen below.
It seems that Apple’s take on push notifications moving forward is going to be pro-privacy, and also pro-advertising. Apps on iPhones are already able to send users ads via push notification. Some critics suggest this new push for transparency is so Apple can get ahead of an EU antitrust investigation, as well a monopoly lawsuit by the US Supreme Court.
While there has been talk of Apple developing a web push API for iOS, it looks to be still stuck in the drawing room. But by all accounts, Apple’s approach towards notifications and data security proves there is a trend towards more control given to users.