Apple has handed brands a whole new way to connect with millions of users

Apple has opened up some of its biggest apps including messaging and Maps to external developers for the first time. DT's Wil Monte outlines how brands can take advantage of the latest updates.

Yesterday at its Worldwide Developer Conference Apple announced they will be opening a number of their core services to developers, including Siri, Messages and Apple Maps.

Wil Monte

While the crowd at WWDC will have you think that this is the greatest thing ever announced, but with an hour of rapturous applause at the completion of every sentence it does get hard to remember what was important and what was…well, just that someone who works at Apple said something on stage.

Amid the white noise, this announcement is something that is not just another minor iteration but potentially a huge change at Apple.

Firstly – what does this mean for us users?

It (in a nutshell) means that we will be able to do a whole lot more with these apps. They will be able to integrate with any number of services that developers surface for them – for example (as in the keynote demo) do group orders with Yelp directly in the thread of your group message, order an Uber or your favourite juicebar juice using Siri (Hey Siri, pick me up in 10 and order me a juice. Like a boss), or do most of your shopping research in Maps according to where you’re heading or standing.

Formerly where we had to jump about a few apps to find something out or get something done, the journey is consolidated and contained to your current thread. It’s seamless experiences like this that we’ve come to expect from our technology.

imessage wide

What does it mean for brands?

Brands will have a new avenue to expose their existing services (think menus, ordering systems, e-commerce systems etc) that won’t require the development of a full app. Developers will need to interface with the appropriate APIs and ensure that content will display appropriately on these new platforms, however this is a fraction of the effort required to build an app.

It also adds a layer of accessibility in being able to use apps with the in-built personal assistant.

apple maps icon

Finally – why did Apple do this?

Historically, Apple hold their core services and platforms tight. They keep them closed so they can ensure people are using them exactly as Apple intend them to be used. As they allow access, they do so in a very gradual manner: remember when iPhone came out, there was no App Store – heck, we can still barely touch NFC years from launch!

Also, Apple only (majorly) updates their software once per year, therefore shifts and trends in user behaviour can only be addressed annually – which in this age is a sure-fire way to be left behind, and is why the lead Apple had in terms of their stock app eco-system (think messaging, mail, iCal, Siri) been completely eroded by companies like Facebook, SnapChat, Google, What’sApp, WeChat, Sunrise (which is now part of Outlook) and so on.

These and many other developers weren’t content with what Apple were serving and created their own platforms to better satisfy the needs of their audience and continued to listen to them, rapidly iterating and pushing regular updates as the needs of the user evolved. The result – social, music, photography and communication apps that you don’t need to leave or change.

So if we’re no longer downloading apps as often as we used to, Apple’s app revenue will be slowing. They know this. And in a move as brilliant as opening the App Store to developers originally, they have now opened three more. Just how much of it we can access from the get-go remains to be seen.

Wil Monte is a partner at DT and founder of mobile agency Millipede


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