Summary of September’s Big Mobile Events Part 3: New Apple Products Launch

October 2, 2014

On September 9, in Cupertino the most anticipated event of the fall (or even the year) in the world of technology took place – the new Apple products launch event. Finally, now that all emotions have calmed down, we’ve decided to summarize and make some predictions about new Apple devices and their influence on the mobile application development and design industry.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The expectations of Apple customers and fans have been fulfilled: iPhone 6 is really bigger in size. iPhone 6 is 4,7 and iPhone 6 Plus is 5,5 inches (diagonal). In addition, iPhone 6 is now even thinner, and its edges acquired a rounded shape. How to use such a large iPhone 6 Plus with one hand? Apple has thought about it: if you touch a single button on the device, the screen will “move out” down, so that the user can click on the top of the search bar, for example, when he goes to the network.

What does the “big” iPhone mean for mobile application development and design?  Existing apps may be zoomed, but many app developers are already looking forward to reworking their apps to fully take advantage of the extra space. Good.iWare CEO Yuri Selukoff says “the larger the screen, the better it is for reading”, and hopes people with new Apple devices will “spend more time reading and annotating documents, which means more possibilities for apps like GoodReader”. Moreover, developers are extremely positive about the potential for games and multimedia on the new iPhones.

Let’s look what impact the bigger screens will probably have on the app design:

  1. Action buttons in the bottom of the screen

Today it is still common for an app to stick useful buttons in the top corners of your screen. But on a large screen this will be too far to reach with one’s thumb.

“We suspect a lot of apps are going to start thinking about putting the main engagement options on the bottom of the screen rather than top or upper right,explains Mark Kawano, a former Apple designer.

  1. Gestures instead of buttons

Moving a navigation menu to the bottom of the screen is not always the best option. For example, Loren Brichter warns: “People read from the top down, and I’ve found many people may completely miss stuff at the bottom of the screen”. That is why all sorts of action buttons and navigation could be hidden within finger movement – a simple swipe.

  1. Split screen designs

Splitscreen is a new opportunity for customizing app to scratch very particular user needs. Today Apple’s software-development kit will allow developers to specify whether or not to go splitscreen, not based upon whether something is an iPad or iPhone app, but how large the device’s screen is.

Technically, iPhone 6 is faster and more productive due to the new processor A8. According to Tim Cook, it is 20% faster than the previous model at the same time of work without recharging. Both devices are already available in the versions 16, 64 and 128 GB.

The screenshot below shows the increase in the speed of each model: iPhone 6 is 50 times more productive than the previous model, and 84 times faster, which makes it possible to use quite complex apps or play even online games on this phone.

Apple Pay

iPhone 6 received NFC – technology of wireless contacts. With NFC it became possible to run Apple Pay – an electronic purse, which reduces the payment of any purchase up to 3 seconds (Cook even had to show the video demonstrating the process twice, otherwise the audience does not have time to see how it all happened).

Apple Pay will work with American Express, Visa, Master Card. What the most interesting is that now developers can add button “buy” to their applications or social networks. All purchases will be reduced to two touches of the screen on iPhone 6.

Apple Pay will be available soon in October and will run online with such brands as Bloomingdale’s, Disney Store, Walt Disney World Resort, Duane Reade, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Sephora, Staples, Subway, Walgreens and Whole Foods Market; on the applications of Starbucks, McDonalds, Uber, Groupon; and with 220,000 (for now) offline stores in the United States.

Apple Watch

At first glance, Apple Watch surpassed all expectations in design and functionality. But it is necessary to make second, more detailed review, when Apple Watch will be on sale in early 2015.

What we know today exactly is that it can handle a wide array of tasks, including mapping, messaging, music streaming, making mobile payments and the most interesting – fitness tracking (we will come back to this feature). If Apple Watch is not needed at a particular moment, the device remains silent on the hand, performing the function of ordinary watch – the same as other smartwatches like Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live.

As for the apps for Apple Watch, David Chartier of AgileBits notes it’s a “totally new platform, which will require new thinking for new use-cases”. It eschews multitouch and has a tiny screen, which will prove challenging to app and game creators. Chartier reasons those who “truly think outside the box will be most successful”.

Obviously, it’ll be perfect for tracking life, including for business uses, such as timing billables by client. But there are also loads of potential in health and personally connected apps, with the Apple Watch sensors and ‘taptic’ engine collecting and feeding back data to users in new ways.

As it is stated in The Verge, the Apple Watch is poised to dominate the market for digital trackers. There will be two apps for the Apple Watch dedicated to health tracking and fitness: Fitness and Workout. The core of the watch will be a feature to promote healthy living: “Stand”, “Move” and “Exercise” (see on the picture above). The “Stand” function will help minimize user’s sedentary time. The “Move” function will help to track how many calories user is burning throughout the day with standard activity — and encourage him or her to do so. The “Exercise” function can be used during intense workouts. The Apple Watch uses LEDs to measure user’s heart rate. This means user could measure even the “intensity” of his or her workouts with this sensor.

Surely, at $349 the Apple Watch is more expensive than average fitness tracker, roughly three times the cost of the Jawbone Up24, for example. A much bigger drawback is that it needs to be paired with iPhone for one of its best features to function (for example, GPS to track distance).

However, “battery could be the achilles heel” says Julie Ask, a digital health analyst with Forrester Research. User has to charge the unit each day, unlike fitness trackers or sport watches that can last a week. Indeed, Tim Cook didn’t go into great detail about the Apple Watch battery life, but he did hint that the smartwatch is designed to be “worn all day” and is “simple to charge at night”. That had led us to believe that the Apple Watch will  have an approximately one day battery life, sort of like the Moto 360, LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live we’ve reviewed earlier.

Stay with us to review what challenges app developers will face in the new platforms of app design and development.

If you consider developing special applications for Apple Watch, iPhone or some apps featuring Apple Pay technology, feel free to contact us!