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Lock screen features, universal clipboard are highlights of Apple conference

By Sarah Riley

MindSea, an investment of The Chronicle Herald

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


That wonderful time of year has come and gone again for iOS developers and Apple lovers alike. The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) took place earlier this month in San Francisco with an in-depth look at Apple’s latest updates.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, after the last round of big Apple news in September of last year (which included the big format iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil), Apple’s latest round of advancements were hardware-free.

The major stars of the WWDC? Software for Mac OS X and the iPhone respectively, with running themes of convenience, access — and, of course, mobility.

The big reveal at this year's Apple conference involved software.
The big reveal at this year's Apple conference involved software.

We’ve pulled together a few WWDC highlights sure to perk up publishers, including what they might mean for your mobile product strategies and audience.

1. Apple News rethought

Though the release of Apple News (to replace newsstand) last year was much hyped, it’s been slow to build traction with anything but a core group of users. Many gave it a chance (60 million monthly readers by last count) but found, though well-intended, the experience of reading news on the app felt like a mish-mash.

Apple is committed to giving readers the ultimate news hub, and it intends to deliver on that with a re-envisioned design in the upcoming release of iOS 10. It will establish clear sectional hierarchies in its latest iteration, including Trending and Top Stories, as well as create topics based on readers’ preferences.

The app will also curate content, offering featured stories and breaking news notifications (presumably also curated) and, most importantly for publishers, News will support subscriptions!

Ensuring users can subscribe and read all of your content is table stakes for publishers with the release of iOS 10. “We wanted News to be the place where you read all the stories from your favorite publications,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, told audiences in person at WWDC.

A heads-up though: Apple is making it possible to delete pre-loaded iPhone apps in later versions of iOS 10, including News, so some would-be subscribers may be inclined to hit the “x” before they ever get this far.

The latest MacOS software, "Sierra," will feature a copy-and-paste feature that allows for cross-platform use.
The latest MacOS software, "Sierra," will feature a copy-and-paste feature that allows for cross-platform use.

2. Free the clipboard

“Sierra,” the latest software for MacOS (formerly Mac OS X), takes copy-and-paste to a whole new level. Those with the software will have what Apple is calling a “Universal Clipboard,” where text copied on your iPhone is automatically available to paste on your desktop.

It doesn’t seem like a feature that will change lives in the grand scheme of things, but publishers might want to make sure they’re following examples set by media companies like The New Yorker, Wired, and Sports Illustrated, and add citations or CTAs to any text copied and pasted from a media company’s Web site, ensuring readers can find them again quickly when they switch platforms.

3. Rich notifications

You’re unlikely to speed past your iPhone lock screen with iOS 10. More responsive iPhone notifications enable users to interact directly with notification bubbles (i.e. watch videos, listen to audio, respond directly to messages, etc., without ever unlocking the phone).

The powerful feature publishers will be keen on will be the ability to update notifications in real time. iOS developers will be able to toggle notification behaviour. Notifications on the lock screen can reveal new information, meaning your readers can get more value from you right on the lock screen. Imagine your sports app updating the score of the big game right on the lock screen.

Apple announced a myriad of other improvements at WWDC aimed at making users’ interactions with their products — and yours — faster, easier, and more refined. Expect Apple to continue this trend throughout 2016.

About Sarah Riley

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