iOS 10 arrived this past September, and it came with lots of new functionalities for Apple mobile developers to take advantage of. In this article we will pick the most relevant new APIs for our consideration and see how can we use them to improve the UX of our applications. Let’s start!
One of the most important new features that iOS 10 came with is the possibility to integrate Apple’s voice-assistant Siri with our applications. Imagine how can we improve the user experience with this new API, making life easier for our users by letting them interact with Siri to request app-specific information, or even do app-specific actions without opening the app itself.
The first real example that comes to mind is the WhatsApp integration. Sending a message without having to type, in some situations where the user is busy and doesn’t have time to do so, is very useful and, believe me, users will be grateful. Another possibility is to start a phone call through Skype, or ask for a ride with Uber. The possibilities with SiriKit are infinite!
Or not. All that glitters is not gold, and before running to your Xcode window to start integrating SiriKit to your application, you have to know that, at least by now, Apple only made available six domains that Siri can recognize:
- Audio or video calling
- Searching photos
- Ride booking
A domain is a “category” of things that Siri understands and knows how to talk about.
So first of all, see if your application applies to any of these categories. If that is the case, cool! Then start thinking how can you improve the user experience with this great new API.
If none of the domains apply to your app, you’ll have to wait until Apple enables a one that your applications fits in (don’t lose hope, maybe in a future update).
iMessage + Apps
Another relevant new iOS 10 feature for developers is the integration with iMessage app. With Messages framework, we are now allowed to create two types of app extensions: Sticker packs and iMessage apps. And these two type of extension types can be created as standalone apps or embedded in our existing application.
This type of extension simply provides a set of stickers or images that users can send as inline messages or peel off and attach to message bubbles in the transcript within the iMessage app.
The good news is that adding Stickers does not require even one line of code. Only by adding the images (which have to adhere to the guidelines for supported Small, Medium and Large sizes) in the Sticker asset catalog of our project, are we ready to go. And if you want to make impressive stickers, Apple also provides a way to add animated ones!
It is a good opportunity to improve the loyalty of your users with your brand, even if you don’t have an app live on the App Store!
iMessage in iOS 10 comes with its own App Store that features a variety of apps and games, in addition to stickers. Apple provides us a way in the Message framework to build apps for iMessage, which is a great tool to not only improve the loyalty of users, but to increase user engagement as well.
Imagine letting your users make collaborative orders with friends for your restaurant on iMessage, or build their own ice cream concoctions with stickers.
Those are just some of the ways can we take advantage of iMessage App extensions to improve the user experience.
With the new Speech Recognition API, developers have a new way to deal with speech in addition to Siri. The Speech framework supports up to 50 languages in real-time or recorded speech, so it is a great API to improve your existing localized application with this new iOS 10 feature.
There are some third-party speech recognition frameworks on the scene, but getting a native one from Apple is great news.
Imagine your users taking a selfie with your photos app just by saying “cheese!”. That is a great idea, isn’t it? Ok, maybe you are more creative and have better examples of how to use this technology, but you got the point: let’s leave it to the UX team of the project.
Some things to point out about this framework:
- Internet connection is a must
- It has usage limits (per-day, per-device and per-app limits)
- It shouldn’t deal with any personal data, like passwords, credit cards or security codes
- It must always show the recognition results before processing them
- It should not process records for longer than 1 minute
Apple has introduced the new User Notification framework, which replaces the existing interfaces to handle notifications that are now deprecated. This new framework improves the handling of user interaction with both local and remote notifications, along of a set of content options that allows richer notifications to be sent to the user.
Wouldn’t be great to reply or forward an email directly by tapping a reply/forward button on the notification? Or maybe answer a Telegram message directly through the notification, with a preview screen? With iOS 10 now this is possible, so from now on it is on our hands to take these improvements and be one step ahead of our competitors.
Also, this framework provides a unified notification API that works across all the multiple platforms that Apple supports, which are:
- iOS: Full support to manage and schedule notifications.
- tvOS: Badge app icons notifications.
- watchOS: Forward notifications from the user’s iOS device to their Apple Watch and gives watch apps the ability to send local notifications directly via the watch
As we can see, iOS 10 incorporates a lot of new features that developers can use to make richer applications for an improved user experience. We didn’t mention all the new features iOS 10 comes with, so we encourage you to visit Apple’s iOS developer website and discover them by yourself.