Apple has announced several new features and services that publishers should be aware of. Here are some of the recent changes:

Location permission updates

Before iOS 11, app developers could limit the location-sharing prompt within the app to “always” and “deny” location sharing. With the iOS 11 update, apps asking for users to always share their location need to also give them the option of sharing their location “only when using the app.”

Some of the reasons to ask for the “always” on permissions is to deliver services based on the user’s location or for targeted, location-based ads.

For example, some services require the app to always know where the user is to function, such as Google Maps, Uber, and Lyft. Also, tips services allowing publishers to ask users at a certain location to send the publisher images and/or videos from that location, such as Aftonbladet tipsa, also require the location feature to be activated. Beacon-related services also rely on “always” knowing the user’s location to function.

With iOS 11, users will automatically be given three choices when prompted to share their location.
With iOS 11, users will automatically be given three choices when prompted to share their location.

Apple has also recommended a two-step approach for app developers wanting users to “always” share their location. The first step is to ask them to share their location “only when using the app,” and, at a later date, prompt users a second time asking them to “always” share their location. 

Another notable change will be a colour change to the status bar when an app is using the user’s location in the background. The status bar will change to a prominent blue colour as soon as an app begins to access the user’s location.

These changes are meant to give users more control over their location data and highlight when these apps are using the users’ location data. It will also force publishers to only use a user’s location when absolutely needed and explain clearly why they need the user’s location or risk the user turning off location sharing with the app or, worst yet, removing the app.

New App Store

Apple has also announced new changes to the App Store. The changes will hopefully improve app discovery and app previews. Some of the improvements include:

  • Separate tabs for apps and games.
  • A redesigned product page that makes it easier to view ratings/reviews and displays automatic video previews.
  • Discoverability has been improved with a more detailed search feature.
  • In-app purchases will be promoted on the product page.
  • Users can buy an in-app purchase directly from the App Store.

It’s worth looking into the upcoming changes and adapting your App Store content to take advantage of these improvements. The new App Store will be part of the iOS 11 release. (Read how to make the most of your product page on the all-new App Store.)

Phased app releases

App developers can now release a version of their app in phases. This gives developers the ability to catch any potential problems early before the majority of users have updated the app.

Developers can now choose to release the app over a seven-day period, and a percentage of users will get the automatic update each day over a seven-day period. If developers discover a problem, they can pause the phased release and fix the error before releasing the app to the rest of the users. Check out the WWDC video explaining the feature.

Reply to App Store reviews

The ability to reply to user feedback through iTunes connect has been available for a few months (Version 10.3 in March 2017). It’s possible to reply to people who have given you feedback through the App Store. Your reply will be sent to the user as a push notification and via e-mail. It will also be available for all users to see on the App Store.

Apple has also created a new iTunes Connect “customer support role” with access to the review section of iTunes Connect.

Ad-track blocker added to Safari

Apple has added a feature it is calling “intelligent tracking prevention” to the desktop Safari browser. The feature attempts to limit the amount of data advertisers are able to gather about what users have been browsing. The feature blocks sharing of cross-site scripting data, keeping a user’s browser history private. 

This follows Google’s announcement to introduce an adblocker to Chrome. The Chrome feature appears to be more of an ad quality filter rather than a true adblocker.

IOS 11 is currently available to developers for testing and as a public beta. It will be available as a standard update around September.