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New Apple technology opens engagement, design opportunities for media companies


Apple's iPhone 6 integrates new technology allowing publishers to create high-quality contents.
Apple's iPhone 6 integrates new technology allowing publishers to create high-quality contents.

If you have any starry-eyed Apple acolytes in your office (and even if you don’t), chances are you’ve heard about or can hardly wait to get your hands on the host of the hotly debated, new technology announced by the company last week.

At first glance, recognisable Apple themes like “bigger is better” were common. There were some surprises though, including a few innovations publishers, in particular, may want to note.

The biggest one? The incredibly smart new 3D Touch feature.

This one cool little upgrade is, in fact, a huge game changer. Apple can now boast a UI that additionally senses force and distinguishes between short and long presses. Tap-and-swipe only screens have been rendered effectively passé. Where we could once only tap where we wanted to go, we can now also define how deep.

Within the context of a news app, the advantage is self-evident – and intriguing.

For instance, pressing versus tapping could deliver a content preview. Your audience no longer needs to navigate between full articles to peruse. 3D Touch allows publishers to encourage exploration and engagement in a way that seems imminently designed to increase time spent within an app.

And if applied well to context menus, force touch could create shortcuts to in-depth interaction with the material. Compare and contrast scrolling through articles to locate social buttons to pressing and holding to instantly share something of interest.

The long-rumoured update to Apple TV has also arrived.

Opening up the ability to bring apps to the TV experience could turn the platform into the new Wild West of video content. As such, there’s plenty of room to make an impact.

Publishers looking for hints on how to plan products for the space should look no further than their own journalists’ oft-used live-streaming companion app, Periscope, and its not-so-top-secret plans to launch on the platform.

Apple TV is an obvious ground for Periscope to stake a claim. The app will turn the platform into a real-time remote window on the world (something that was once the sole territory of the evening news).

Apple TV consumers may want to use the tech in a familiar way for now, preferring to watch and observe rather than read content, but that leaves a big opening for publishers adept at bundling stories in immersive ways.

Think bold visuals combined with documentary video and animated infographics for long-form content, and live streaming for breaking news (it’s unclear whether the Apple TV SDK will allow for breaking news pops-ups, but in theory even that should be possible).

With countless ways to create interactive content, the fight for the remote will be more cut-throat than ever.

Of course, we can’t leave out the iPad Pro, or the iPad’s new ability to multi-task via split screen. News apps on the iPad might now encourage a “take over” of a portion of the iPad screen, much like a constant ticker.

And the iPad Pro is so large, we’re starting to arrive at a design juncture where a list-view approach to content is no longer necessary. That’s not to suggest that full tabloid, newspaper-style layouts are now possible – but almost. The additional screen real estate means your design team can play with rich media and intricately styled environments to wow readers.

Where the iPad Pro really gets interesting, though, is in imagining its benefits to your journalists. Incredibly powerful software experiences relevant to content creation are poised to be available on the tech, but the ones you’ll custom design and build to integrate with your own CMS will be even more impressive differentiators.

With the size of the screen, editors can mock up their layouts side-by-side per platform in high fidelity without having to close or exit the draft – a task previously reserved for dual monitors at a desk. A nimble writer and designer with an iPad Pro and a selfie stick can now be your de facto roving reporting team, creating high-quality content for all platforms on the fly.

All of this, and we haven’t even touched on the Watch OS version 2 or the Apple Pencil.

While we’re not sure we saw any forays into truly new categories for Apple last week, we did see some very interesting developments.

New accessories, larger and more responsive screens, and refinements to performance may seem like incremental steps forward, but they’ll have a major ripple effect on publishers’ abilities to create and design new experiences.

It’s the same story, only now there are even more ways to tell it.

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