Billed as the “most significant change to the mobile operating system since our first iOS platform,” Apple’s iOS7 is a lesson in refinement. It has evolved from its predecessor in some surprising ways, and cuts a sleek, almost Spartan dash, with a clutch of new features, a pared-down interface and a liberal sprinkling of the best facets of rival smartphones, including Google’s Android.
The most obvious changes are the migration of the search feature from the swipe left screen to the home screen, and the revamped app switching capability – both big improvements. There is the usual slew of new mobile apps, most notably the addition of iTunes Radio, which marks Apple’s first foray into the internet radio streaming market. The updated Siri has ironed out most of the creases that bugged iOS 6, and Safari has had a pleasing touch-up that does more than tread water.
All told, there are 200 new features, some of which don’t reveal themselves immediately. Once again, Apple has pulled off the neat trick of surprising and delighting its users. But what implications does the new design have for iPhone mobile marketing strategists? Will iOS 7 change the way iPhone campaigns are run? There are two key features that could hold the answer: AirDrop and iBeacon, both of which open up exciting opportunities for location-targeted marketing.
Desktop users have been waiting a long time for AirDrop to be added to Apple’s mobile devices. The ability to share files with selected contacts over Wi-Fi is clearly beneficial for the average smartphone owner, and as a marketing tool it provides a smooth, costless way to transmit information. Expect ‘AirDrop’ to become a verb at expos, conventions and trade fairs up and down the country.
AirDrop is a particularly exciting development for businesses that have a need to send information too large or otherwise unsuitable for a text. Maps, videos, games, surveys, literature – anything that previously required an email can now be done directly over WiFi. Large department stores or malls can even track the whereabouts of customers who have logged on and gain valuable insight into their shopping habits.
With so many potential applications, AirDrop promises to play a part in any iPhone mobile marketing campaigns, but when it comes to in-store customer relations, iBeacon is where it’s at. Using Bluetooth, iBeacon can identify customers who are lingering in one location for too long and may need help, match loyalty offers with customers (rather than sending one-size-fits-all coupons) and do away with clunky QR codes altogether.
It’s not all been plain sailing for iOS 7. There have been glitches with iMessage, Apple’s internet texting service, and the company’s online support forum has had a steady stream of complaints about messages failing to send. Teething problems aside, iMessage will prove immensely useful to anyone currently conducting an iPhone SMS marketing campaign, as bulk texts can be send from and to anywhere in the world for free.
Between iMessage, AirDrop and iBeacon, iOS 7 has opened up a truckload of possibilities for imaginative iPhone mobile marketing managers. The benefits will not be fully felt until customers upgrade to the new OS and start catching on to the new toys in the box. At that point, customer relations will have reached a level of sophistication that only Apple will know how to best.