It’s that time of the year again – when mobile app businesses, developers, industry experts, market watchers, and customers wait with bated breath. We’re referring to the 5-day Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, 2019 that kicks off on June 3rd in San Jose, California!
June 3rd is widely expected to be the reveal date for Apple’s next update of its operating system, the iOS 13. With a number of well-founded rumours, alleged leaks, and digital buzz gathering steam ahead of its actual announcement, expectations from iOS 13 are high. Expectations are even more magnified given that Apple’s iPhone sales have been steadily falling. In fact, Apple’s year-over-year iPhone revenues declined by almost 15% in Q1 of 2019.
iOS 13 is likely to be more developed than previous operating system upgrades, building on Apple’s new iOS development policy that was first seen with iOS 12. This means that their engineering team will now rollout features only when they’re absolutely ready instead of rushing through with under-developed features. So, you can expect a few spill-over features from iOS 12 to make it to the forthcoming update.
Keeping a close eye on what iOS 13 will bring to the table – to iPhones, in particular – we’ve gazed into our data-driven crystal ball and made 7 major predictions that you – as brands, mobile marketers, and customers – should watch out for:
System-Level Dark Mode:
While certain pre-installed native Apple apps such as Maps and Books already provide a dark mode option, we predict that iOS 13 will give users a more operating system-level dark mode option. iPhone loyalists have been clamouring for this feature for years now as it helps with better night-time screen viewing.
It might seem to be a minor feature, but the use of dark colours and higher contrasts helps reduce glare from the screen, thereby, protecting eyes from fatigue due to long hours of exposure.
The probability of introducing this feature is higher given that it was recently introduced, system-wide, as part of the macOS Mojave launch last year.
The system-level dark mode could look like this!
System-Wide Sleep Mode:
Given how smartphones have woven themselves into the fabric of our daily lives, smartphone manufacturers like Apple have begun paying greater attention to aspects such as user privacy and mental wellbeing.
This shift in approach gained greater momentum in 2018 with the release of new features such as Screen Time and Grouped Push Notifications on iOS 12.
iOS 13 is likely to debut a system-wide Sleep Mode that will be available in the “Control Centre” on launching “Settings”. On activation, this feature will darken the lock screen and mute all push notifications, emails, or text messages received.
Think of Sleep Mode as an upgrade on and extension of the existing Bedtime toggle, currently available under “Do Not Disturb” on launching “Settings”.
This also serves as a timely reminder for mobile marketers not to devote time, effort, and energy towards engaging with users when they’re most likely to be asleep. It defies campaign objectives. It defies logic!
The end objective must always remain to reach the right user with the right message on the right channel, at just the right time.
Revamped Volume Heads-Up (HUD) Display Icon:
iPhone users would be familiar with the often annoying display box that would appear in the middle of the screen every time one increased or decreased the volume of the ringer.
By doing away with this display, users will be able to focus on the on-screen content without briefly interrupting the viewing experience on the appearance of this display box. It remains to be seen what the volume HUD would look like in iOS 13.
This is yet another upgrade that users have been asking for, for years now.
The current Volume HUD obstructs content on the screen
Upgraded Mail App
According to Litmus, iPhone was the most popular email client, as of December, 2017. However, that standing continues to take a hit with the blistering popularity of Gmail across devices and the decision of Apple to allow users to uninstall pre-installed apps.
While die-hard iPhone loyalists swear by the Mail app, automatic mail filtering and segregation has been a challenge. It is likely that iOS 13 will help users organise their inbox into easily accessible and viewable tabs such as “Marketing”, “Travel”, “Purchase”, etc. This will make inbox organisation far easier and faster.
Along with this, it is also predicted that the upgraded Mail app will have a “Read Later” option and an option to block certain contacts based on the users’ discretion.
WhatsApp-Styled Messages App:
The native Messages app on iPhones is used to send text or multimedia messages; i.e. SMS and MMS. While this remains a more popular app within the iPhone users’ community, it pales in comparison to other free messaging apps when it comes to widespread usage. Think about WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
This is one reason why that iOS 13 is likely to revamp the look and feel of the Messages app by adopting the WhatsApp way. Users might be able to add a display name and picture of their choice while also being able to decide who amongst their contact list can view these.
The Messages app is also likely to have separate menus for Animoji and Memoji stickers to aid easier access and greater adoption. These features mirror users’ facial expressions against their recorded voices to create funny multimedia emojis that can be created and saved or shared instantly.
Stickier Books App:
This app is largely under-utilised by iPhone users, given the number of other alternatives available on the app store. With a view to make this app “stickier” and to ensure users return to the app more frequently, we predict that iOS 13 will come with a revamped Books app.
A major anticipated change is the inclusion of a progress tracker to serve as motivation for users to read more. Driving greater adoption for such apps comes down to creating a habit-forming element. This ensures that users remain hooked for a longer period of time, as Nir Eyal wisely explains.
The current interface of the Books app
Improved Health App:
Having debuted in 2014, the Health app on the iPhone has undergone multiple upgrades over the last few years. It continues to successfully serve as a “centralised hub for all user-level health data from various third-party apps and wearable devices”. The app captures and analyses users’ health data across 4 major functions:
- Activity (physical exercise)
- Mindfulness (mental health)
- Nutrition (diet)
We predict that the forthcoming iOS 13 version of the app will improve the tracking of reproductive health for women. It is also likely to help users gauge and monitor their auditory health; i.e. providing insights on how hearing is impacted by the volume at which music is playing through the earphones or the noise pollution levels around them. These are minor upgrades that are likely to have a greater impact on app utility and adoption. Given how smart wearables and apps are revolutionising the health and fitness industry, Apple is likely to place higher emphasis on upgrading the Health app, year-over-year.
The current Health app layout
iOS 13 is unlikely to bring in any wholesale changes to the existing UX, but the above predictions point in the direction of Apple’s greater focus on ramping up their in-built native app suite. It also remains to be seen whether there are any minor changes to the Grouped Notifications feature that was part of iOS 12 – something that was met with mixed reactions from the mobile marketing community.
Come the first week of June, 2019, we’ll soon know whether Apple will delight or disappoint. Until then, let the predictions gather more momentum!