- Apple released the latest software that runs its iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV devices today, a day after the company previewed new products and services at a virtual event. With the rollout of home-screen widgets and an "app library" in iOS 14 for iPhones, Apple has made the biggest changes to its user interface since introducing the mobile devices, 9to5Mac reported.
- Widgets let iPhone users customize home screens to show their favorite apps more prominently instead of placing them in a uniform grid of square-shaped icons. The widgets also allow for limited app functionality without having to fully open them. The app library helps to organize apps so they don't clutter the home screen.
- Apple also introduced a subscription bundle called Apple One that offers various packages of six services including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade gaming, its Apple News+ digital newsstand, iCloud storage and the soon-to-be-launched Apple Fitness+ for the Apple Watch. In addition to showcasing the latest software and services, it introduced new Apple Watches and iPads at its Tuesday showcase, but held off on debuting the next line of iPhones.
Apple's latest software features and services are likely to affect how mobile marketers connect with customers on its platforms in several ways. By making its devices more user-friendly with customized features like home-screen widgets, Apple can help to personalize the user experience and boost engagement with a wide variety of apps. The widgets feature is already available in the rival Android operating system and may help to convert some people to switch to Apple's devices, but other considerations like price remain a major factor.
In addition to widgets and the App Library, Apple is introducing an App Clips feature to let businesses create miniature versions of their apps for quick access. That means retailers, restaurants and other service providers can create customized App Clip codes for people to scan with their iPhones, helping to speed up transactions and make them more convenient. App Clip codes can be shared in Apple's Messages chat app or downloaded on its Safari web browser. IPhone users also can activate App Clips with a near-field communications tag or scannable QR code, giving marketers flexibility with the technology.
At the same time, Apple's subscription bundling can help the company to expand its services business by making them more competitively priced against rivals in streaming media. Apple's services revenue grew 15% to $13.2 billion in the most recently completed quarter from a year earlier, faster than the 10% growth in hardware sales that are its biggest source of revenue.
As Amazon does with its Prime membership, Apple seeks to make its platform more valuable by bundling services together at a discount. Growing its services business has become a key priority for Apple to make its hardware more distinct from Android devices and to better compete with tech giants like Amazon and Google that operate in dozens of industries. Meanwhile, the bundling may have a negative effect on rivals like Netflix and Spotify that provide on-demand streaming services, or on exercise equipment makers like Peloton that sell subscriptions to their services.