App Clips in iOS 14: What Your Product Team Needs to Know

App Clips are coming this fall to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. But what do you need to know to pitch this feature to your product team?

App Clips provide entry points for your users to experience your app with minimum friction.

User Story

Raven walks into this lovely smoothie shop for the first time and finds a table for herself. She then sees a beautiful tag near an item in the menu, just like the one below.

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Raven's excited! She knows that an App Clip awaits for her behind this tag.

She scans the tag and an App Clip experience pops up on her phone.

With only 2 taps she confirms her order and finishes using Apple Pay.

She's thrilled by the experience she just had, so she decides to download the shop's full app from the App Store. Luckily, there's a handy button for that.

Entry Point

Although scanning a QR code-like tag does the job, there're several other ways to discover App Clips, such as tapping NFC tags, Place Cards in Maps, and Siri Nearby Suggestions (for registered businesses). You can also display a Smart App banner in your website, which displays beautifully in Safari and Messages apps.

If the user interacting with your tags already has your app, it opens your app instead, in the right context.

🚀 What your App Clip can do

App Clips are shareable. So users can send them to their friends via social media, Messages, or any other way you'd use to share a URL.

There's a new type of push notification that can be sent for up to 8 hours after launching your App Clip. The permission to receive these notifications is enabled by default, but users can disable it by tapping "Options" on the App Clip card.

There's also a new location verification service made specifically for App Clips that can be used to validate a user's physical location. Again, requesting location services (such as GPS) is authorized by default, unless explicitly deauthorized by the user.

An App Clip can request permission to use Bluetooth, camera, and microphone.

✅ What your App Clip should do

It must offer a streamlined experience. It must be fast. It must be focused on the single task the user is performing.

It also has to be small in size. A hard limit of 10MB (post app thinning) is set to App Clips. This must be kept in mind when designing an App Clip, and also when implementing it.

Apple strongly suggests offering Sign In With Apple for authentication purposes (if needed), and Apple Pay for payments, to offer the fastest and lightest experience possible.

For more do's, check Apple's App Clips Human Interface Guidelines.

❌ What your App Clip shouldn't do

Avoid using large/complex 3rd party libraries and dependencies, because of the App Clip size limit. This includes libraries that you'd think that are otherwise essential, such as social authentication (e.g. login via Facebook or Google), local database libraries (such as Realm or Firebase), payments using credit card (e.g. Stripe) or bank account authentication (e.g. Plaid).

Apple specifically warns developers against using App Clips solely for marketing purposes:

App Clips should provide real value and help people accomplish tasks. Don’t use them as a means to advertise services or products.

Avoid requiring people to authenticate themselves before using your App Clip.

Avoid sending notifications at all if they don't help users complete their original task.

Tailored Experience

Let's say you're a premium car maker and you have 5 car models available in each of your dealerships. You can have an App Code tag close to each of them that once scanned allows you to see more information about that car. But for the flagship model, you want to offer a completely different App Clip experience, impressing the customer.

App Clips allow you to do just that: make an experience as specific as you want, while also allowing you to have a more generic experience for all the other cases. But also keep in mind that each tailored App Clip experience must be previously configured before releasing your app to the App Store, and if you need to make changes, a new App Store submission is required.

Conclusion

App Clips are here to increase app discoverability, help onboard new users, streamline real-life tasks.

Apple was generous with notification and location permissions, by enabling them by default. Don't make your users regret that.

Hopefully App Clips will be a great opportunity for your team to rethink how lean a user flow can be for a specific task, and then these changes could reflect on the full app experience as well, improving overall quality of apps.

If you think your app could make great use of App Clips, or if this article provided any value to you, let me know on the comments below or via twitter @rogerluan_. I can't wait to see what we can do with App Clips at Tellus!

Shout out to my friend and colleague Danilo Becke, for reviewing this article.

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Roger Oba

Roger Oba

Lead iOS Engineer @ Tellus Inc. I hate reading, but Medium has been doing a great job changing this. I might write my opinions here every once in a while.