Apple’s Big Unveil Focuses on the Bright and Shiny

Today Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which, as you might expect, are bigger, faster and thinner. Key enhancements were made to the camera and the A8 and M8 processors. Apple also unveiled bigger strategic moves with its entry into mobile payments through Apple Pay, and wearables with Apple Watch.

While long anticipated, Pay and Watch have marshaled broad support from industry players and brands, suggesting that Apple may succeed where others have failed. Time will tell…Apple Watch won't be available until early 2015 and developer documentation for WatchKit is still coming.

The vision behind Apple Pay is to replace wallets, starting with “antiquated” and vulnerable payment methods. One could argue that Passbook was Apple’s first foray into realizing this vision and Passbook will likely gain much broader adoption as it becomes the central place Apple Pay stores credit cards alongside coupons, loyalty cards, tickets and more. With more retailer data breaches every month, the security and encryption features built into Apple Pay are a move in the right direction. Consumers can buy goods from physical and online merchants while retaining their payment and personal information including mailing addresses with no forms to fill out. Combined with things like Buy Now buttons in Interactive Notifications, one can easily see how transactions will become effortless.

Like most smartwatches, Apple Watch is meant to work in conjunction with smartphones (specifically iPhones), with notifications being a core connective tissue between the devices. Uniquely, Apple Watch is meant to function as a comprehensive health and fitness device with heart beat sensors and the ability to tap into the iPhone’s M8 chip. In true Apple-esque fashion a lot of thought was put into user experiences enabled through unique UI treatments including:

  • A physical dial—the digital crown
  • Force Touch to sense the difference between a tap and press
  • Taptic Engine that uses haptic feedback to discreetly alert users to incoming information
  • Information displays on-screen once users raise their wrists

Currently, Urban Airship’s Android SDK supports Android Wear APIs for push and rich notifications with buttons, and we will enhance our API and UI for Apple Watch as WatchKit become available.

Quite uncharacteristically, Apple spent little time running through new capabilities of iOS 9. HomeKit and iBeacons were not even mentioned once. It was a decidedly consumer’ish, “here’s what you can buy next,” feel to the day’s announcements.  To be sure, there was plenty of new to talk about, and Apple Watch is the company’s first new product in four years. ...besides all good developers have been working to support iOS 9 since WWDC, well before it becomes publicly available on 9/17.

Mobile engagement is getting more interactive and actionable. iOS 8’s support for Interactive Notifications (get some inspiration here) is readily apparent in Apple Watch’s use of actionable notifications, where button-type responses are dynamically pulled from message content along with more personal response mechanisms including animated emojis, drawing capabilities and even sharing your heart beat.

Stay tuned to our blog and Twitter for more insight into what apps and marketers need to focus on now with exciting changes that will soon be in the hands of consumers.