At the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple announced a number of changes coming with release of the iOS 8 operating system being rolled out in September. Marketers who communicate with consumers via mobile must be aware of the coming changes so they can adjust their strategies and technology capabilities leading up to the release. It’s important to note though that iPhone 4 will not support iOS 8, so for the time being push strategies taking advantage of new iOS 8 capabilities will need to include legacy support for iPhone users who have not yet upgraded to a new device.

The iOS 8 updates primarily focus on improving user engagement through a more streamlined and interactive experience including features such as:

  1. “Actionable” push notifications
  2. Notification center and lock screen widgets
  3. Developer access for in-app fingerprint passcodes
  4. Updates to limit location tracking (in favor of consumer privacy)

Let’s take a look at these new features one by one so we can understand their impact on us as marketers.

Actionable Push Notifications

Similar to Android’s rich notifications, marketers will soon be able to deliver interactive calls to action to iPhone users running iOS 8. How the recipients respond to a notification not only permits further personalization to drive conversion, but it allows collection of additional behavioral data reflecting each person’s interests and preferences for engaging with your app.

Most importantly, in iOS 8, users will be able to view and respond to push notifications without switching apps, providing a less disruptive experience and hopefully making consumers more receptive to receiving push.

To do: Come up with interactive calls to action such as the ability to comment, purchase, sign up for alerts, enroll in a program, ask for feedback, etc., and develop the capability to personalize the user experience and tailor content based on how each person responds to the notification. You’ll also need to come up with a plan for measuring success. Some companies may require technology enhancements to process these real time interactions at the scale of their customer base.

Notification Center and Lock Screen Widgets

This addition opens up an entirely new channel that marketers can use to communicate with consumers. The idea is that the notification center and lock screen will serve as a news feed of customized content from their various apps. This is great for creating a persistent location where your app notifications can remain top of mind. That being said, it may require an extra compelling reason to get someone to open your app once they adopt regular usage of the widget, because they’ll no longer necessarily need to open the app to get quick updates.

To do: Design and create a widget that will encourage your customers to engage with your app in their notification center and/or lock screen. Develop a strategy and implementation plan for how the widget and the app will complement each other as part of a unified experience.