Apple recently announced the yearly update to their mobile operating system and a slew of new features for consumers to salivate over. This year is no different, with headliners such as the new control center, improved multitasking, and AirDrop. Outside of the glitzy and glamorous consumer facing additions, there are a few less publicized features that indicate Apple’s strategic areas of prioritization for the developer community. The first is an emphasis on improving app discovery with the Apps Near Me feature, and the second is a focus on privacy by shutting off access to the MAC address. Let’s look at these new features and discuss their impact.
Location & A New Organic App Discovery Channel
Location is often discussed as the future of mobile marketing, but whether it has lived up to the lofty expectations thus far is debatable. This could begin to change in iOS 7 with the Apps Near Me feature, where users will be able to discover apps that are popular around their location. Examples of potential use cases include if a user is at an airport and is looking to discover popular apps for travelers, or when a user is at a concert and wants to discover apps related to the venue or the band. For mobile app marketers, it appears that Apple is opening up a new organic (for now!) channel to help with app discovery. With millions of apps in the app store today, it benefits both the consumer and the marketer if the discovery process to find the right apps is made simpler. Fortunately, sophisticated user targeting capabilities are emerging, such as the ability to reach users by device, age, gender, or in-app behavior. One method often mentioned to simplify the discovery process for mobile app marketers is to use a mobile DSP with these advanced targeting techniques to reach high ROI audiences and optimize ad campaigns.
Apple Blocks Access To The MAC Address
The second notable announcement unveiled with iOS 7 is that Apple is blocking access to devices MAC Addresses. For those unaware, the MAC Address is a series of numbers that uniquely identifies a device. Blocking access to the MAC Address shouldn’t be a surprise to developers, as Apple began deprecating access to the UDID last summer to give users more control over privacy. While very few publishers and ad networks still access the MAC Address, it signals a concerted effort by Apple to gain further adoption of their own identifier for advertising (IDFA) as the standard tracking mechanism in apps. Apple’s emphasis on standardization and transparency will be key drivers in advancing the mobile app ecosystem. While the numerous benefits of IDFA have already been recounted, it cannot be overstated how seriously Apple is taking privacy. The IDFA is an anonymous identifier that contains no personal identifiable information (PII), unlike both the UDID and the MAC Address. As the web world holds its breath over privacy issues related to Do Not Track (DNT), it becomes increasingly important for the mobile ecosystem to be proactive and focus on user privacy and standardization.
Where The Ecosystem Is Heading
While iOS 7 isn’t set to launch until the fall, it’s clear Apple is taking strategic measures to improve the app ecosystem by focusing on more targeted app discovery and a renewed emphasis on privacy. For app developers and marketers worldwide, expect to see more changes in the next six to nine months from Apple to reflect these strategic priorities.