Tag Archives: Apple Pay

The Best New Features of iOS 11

iOS 11 Image

While we thoroughly enjoyed iOS 10’s open functionality and all it offered app developers, Apple’s premiere operating system is due for a refresh. iOS 11 has been making waves in its public beta release, here are the top upgrades coming to Apple’s landmark OS:

MAJOR UPGRADES FOR IPAD

Apple’s iOS 11 preview states right off the bat: “A giant step for iPhone. A monumental leap for iPad.” iOS 11 offers a number of improvements for iPad users.

The improved Dock now looks a lot like the macOS dock. Users can put dozens of apps in the doc and easily pull it up by swiping upward.

Need to use two apps at the same time? iOS has your back. Like Picture-In-Picture Mode for Android, which we detailed last week in our coverage of Android Oreo, iOS 11 allows you to use two apps at the same time—something that will inevitably come in handy on the large screens of the iPad.

Apple Pencil Instant Notes via Redmond Pie

APPLE PENCIL receives a major upgrade in iOS 11. Instant Markup makes it easy to mark up PDFs, screenshots and more. Instant Notes and Inline Drawing let you customize your screen. The Scan and Sign feature also makes it easy to sign important documents online and send them in the flash of an eye.

SIRI MATURES

WIRED recently detailed the path toward improving the voice of iOS: Siri. While Google and Amazon have excelled in their virtual assistant development, Siri seems to have lagged behind. iOS 11 revamps Siri’s voice to sound much more natural, while also teaching her to translate Chinese, Spanish, French, German, or Italian.

GET READY FOR AUGMENTED REALITY!

When Pokemon Go took the world by storm, “Augmented Reality” became a household name. Now, the time has come for app developers rejoice! iOS 11 features ARKit, a new development framework that makes it easy for developers to build incredible AR experiences.

ARKit allows developers to create 2D or 3D elements in the live view from iPhone and iPad camera’s in order to make them appear as if they exist in the real world. ARKit combines device motion tracking, camera scene capture, advanced scene processing, and display conveniences to make building AR experiences a breeze.

Check out some of the best AR experiences built with ARKit so far.

CAMERA TIME

Thanks to a new compression technology, iOS 11 will be able to store video using less space than ever. Additionally, the camera will allow users to loop live videos, to trim and edit live videos, to grab a still from a live photo, and to capture time and movement with long exposure photos.

Apple App Store via BGR

APP STORE REDESIGN

The rigorous standards of Apple’s App Store always lent itself to curation. With that in mind, Apple has redesigned the App Store to emphasize discovery. The new App Store will offer a completely separate tab for Games, a variety of daily stories and a tab for the best apps of the day, all curated by Apple!

FILES, PAYMENT, AND MORE

iOS 11 is a comprehensive upgrade that comes equipped with a host of other great additions, including:

- FILES: Never lose track of important documents again! The Files app makes it easy to find files stored on iOS devices, in iCloud Drive, and even across other cloud services like Box and Dropbox.

- APPLE PAY IN IMESSAGE: iOS 11 will make peer-to-peer payments easy, allowing users to send Apple Pay payments as a part of iMessage.

- CONTROL CENTER: The Control Center has received a complete redesign. The new Control Center will appear all on one page and is customizable, allowing users to personalize the design to the most helpful layout.

TAKEAWAYS

If you are an iPad user, you are truly in for a treat when iOS 11 comes out. If you only use iPhone, iOS 11 still delivers a fresh redesign with improved functionality. iOS 11 is yet another solid entry in Apple’s OS canon.

Apple Pay Shakes Up eCommerce

One of the major features which defined iOS 8 as a success was Apple Pay. Combined with Touch ID, Apple Pay allows users to make purchases on their iPhone using finger-print scanning technology equipped on iPhone 5 and 6. Apple Pay has aroused its fair share of controversy from the banks, who claim Apple, in addition to Google and Paypal, is infringing on one of their core revenue streams. This post will explore the ins and outs of Apple Pay, it’s potential impact on eCommerce, and what it has to offer your business.

Let’s start with the basics. Apple Pay is a mobile payment system and digital wallet designed to make both in-store and online purchasing easier for the user. When purchasing items on a smartphone from iTunes, the App Store, or third-party apps, Apple Pay uses Touch ID for instant check-out. When purchasing items in-store, Apple Pay utilizes near-field communications so that, like in the digital world, all it takes is a fingerprint scan for a seamless check-out experience.

Apple Pay is not the first of it’s kind. Google Wallet, launched in 2011, was the first major mobile payment system. Google Wallet also utilized near field communications, bu Google Wallet, unlike Apple Pay, did not catch on in any big way. In fact, the recent surge in Apple Pay use has actually caused a resurgence in Google Wallet use.

One of the main differences between the two platforms is Apple Pay’s insistence on protecting the user’s private information. “We are not in the business of collecting your data,” said Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue at the Apple Pay announcement in September. “So when you go to a physical business and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant, and your bank.”

When you add a card with Apple Pay, it only stores a portion of your credit card information, along with a device-specific Device Account Number, but all of your personal information is encrypted. Apple Pay demonstrates it’s not only possible to have secure in-store mobile transactions on your iPhone, but  these transactions are actually even more secure than physical ones.

Apple Pay has been expanding rapidly. It launched with the support of McDonalds, Whole Foods, Nike, and Uber. Recently, ten more banks, including SunTrust, TD Bank North, and Commerce Bank all agreed to use the service. Apple says in a recent New York Times article it supports the cards of 90% of the credit card purchase volume in the US.

Statistics on Apple Pay point to staggering potential. According to MarketingLand, in September 2014, 49.7% of online shopping done on a mobile phone was on an iPhone. 81.6% of tablet e-commerce transactions are done on iPads.

So what does Apple Pay mean for eCommerce? For one, it makes secure purchasing easier than ever for consumers. There’s hope that given the increased competition in payment options, retailers could see decreased fees and improved profit margins.

Alex Martins, chief executive of the Orlando Magic, recently said to the New York Times: “One of the biggest pieces of feedback we get from our fans is that the food and beverage lines are too long… It keeps them from going to the concession stand because they don’t want to miss the action. This, and technologies like Apple Pay, will speed up our service.”

Retailers are also hoping for opportunities to team up with Apple Pay for promotions, however, this would require Apple to keep transaction data in their database, which Apple is currently opposed to for security reasons. As the service refines, it seems inevitable there will be exclusive Apple Pay deals and more of an effort to push consumers to utilize the service. The question is whether Apple Pay will eventually be able to take the next step and replace physical credit cards. Only time will tell.

Mystic Media is an app development and strategic marketing firm providing a host of services to clients, from Android and iOS Development, eCommerce, Web Design, and more. Contact us today by clicking here, or by phone at 801.994.6815

Android Lollipop Vs. iOS 8: The Battle of the Operating Systems

It’s been a good year for operating systems.

Back in June, Google announced their new operating system “Android L,” which has since been dubbed Android Lollipop. In our post  Android L Beta Preview: First Impressions of the Latest OS, we covered what we knew about the OS based on the announcement at the Google I/O 2014.

On the iOS side of the equation, this year saw Apple release iOS 8, which Apple hailed as the biggest iOS release ever. iOS 8 didn’t reinvent iOS aesthetics, rather it pushed forth the flat design introduced with iOS 7 and added a host of new features, including Apple Pay, Touch ID, and Device Continuity.

Both platforms represent dramatic technological advancements. The question now becomes: iOS 8 or Lollipop?

AESTHETICS

Steve Jobs majored in calligraphy at Reed College before dropping out. Jobs always held aesthetic design to be among the top priorities in his vision of Apple products, and Apple has always held a strong edge over Android in the aesthetic department.

iOS 7 saw Apple straying from Jobs’ skeuomorphic ideology in favor of Flat Design: a more stylized, minimal, bright look. iOS 8 refines Flat Design with more consistent iconography and UI. It also makes better use of gestures including swiping left to go back and double tapping the home screen to slide the screen down, allowing for better reachability on the large screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

While Apple refined their current look, Android elected to enact a complete aesthetic overhaul. They may have shaken up the OS aesthetic game with Material Design.

Material Design is not an easy concept to grasp and can better be explored in practice. The idea is that the digital world should have its own intuitive physical rules. Buttons must react specifically to the touch, there must be multiple easily decipherable UI layers, animations must trigger and unfold in a specific, consistent manner. All Material Design aesthetics are in favor of creating the most intuitive, easily understood experience for the user.

Material Design is much more intricate than Flat Design. It’s both showier and more practical. It’s a more evolved, complex version of Flat Design. Thus, Android has taken the crown with regard to aesthetics. It’s likely Apple will follow suit and copy Material Design aesthetics for their next iOS overhaul.

Check out this video demonstrating the ideas of Material Design posted by Google Developers Youtube account.

FEATURES

Both Lollipop and iOS 8 offer new features, in addition to minor UI tweaks, for their devices. Most of these features either mirror their competitor’s counterpart, or replicate a past feature of their competitor.

Lollipop and iOS 8 both push to integrate with cars with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Both offer integrated navigation systems, hands-free calling and texting, and control of entertainment; however, neither will have a major impact until they are adopted by a greater number of cars.

Lollipop and iOS 8 both feature health apps (Google Fit and Health respectively). Both function similarly with certain apps offering exclusive partnerships. The big factor could be whether/which major health apps make the commitment to either Lollipop or iOS 8. The anticipated forthcoming popularity surge in wearables could be a game-changing variable in health apps. At the moment, neither app has a major edge over the other.

iOS 8 now offers Apple Pay combined with Touch ID, a replication of Google Wallet which was introduced in 2011. While Google Wallet is the older system, Apple Pay currently has the momentum. Both offer touch payments via Near Field Communications, but Apple Pay refuses to store physical credit card details, making it the safer system. The popularity of Pay could cause a resurgence of Google Wallet, but at the moment, Apple Pay has a definite edge.

Aside from the aesthetics, perhaps the biggest differentiator between iOS 8 and Lollipop is Apple’s push for the concept of device continuity embodied in Handoff. We covered device continuity in both Climbing Yosemite and Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition. Handoff allows the user to easily complete tasks while transitioning  between Apple devices seamlessly. Instant Hotspot, one of the coolest features of iOS 8, allows users to connect to their iPhone’s cellular network when no other Wi-Fi networks are available. Lollipop comes up empty in this department and Android will surely be playing catch-up when they release their next OS.

BATTERY

iOS bolsters a reputation for retaining a more efficient battery than Android. With Project Volta, Android has made a strong attempt to optimize their OS to defeat this notion.

Lollipop features a built-in task manager designed to prevent unnecessary operations from waking the phone up, running app house-cleaning necessities in batches when plugged in, and preventing network requests from Android and third party apps in spots without network connectivity. Lollipop also has “Battery Historian,” an analytics tool designed to track and tweak battery consumption.

iOS 8 did not make any dramatic attempts to improve it’s battery life, but still competes with Android with an extremely efficient standby mode: leaving an iPhone 6 or 6 plus unplugged overnight will only lose 1-2% charge.

Overall, the OS battery competition is fairly neck-and-neck, which is a big improvement for Android considering in the past they have gotten smoked in this department.

Check out this video Introduction to Project Volta from Google I/O 2014 for more information.

AVAILABILITY

One of the major factors which elevates iOS 8 over Lollipop is the limited availability of the OS due to device fragmentation.

Google allows third-party developers to build hardware for the Android OS. This causes device fragmentation, in which the variety of hardware makes it harder to optimize software for each device. As a result, different devices will have access to Lollipop at different times. Lollipop is currently available on Google’s Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 phones with a staggered launch planned for other Android phones.

Device fragmentation is also troublesome for app developers as it means there’s no way to optimize directly for all the hardware considering the diversity.

iOS’s iPhone exclusivity means it runs well across devices and updates are immediately accessible on Apple hardware. The user is guaranteed at least three years of upgrades. App developers can optimize for each platform which remains relevant.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, iOS 8 is the more practical operating system. While Material Design represents an exciting leap forward in software aesthetics, iOS 8’s device continuity features trump all of Lollipop’s functional additions. The widespread availability of iOS 8 and lack of device fragmentation makes it the better optimized package.

While iOS 8 wins this battle, it will be exciting to see how the platforms influence one another in the next round of OS updates. Expect Apple to adopt Material Design aesthetics and Android to begin a push for their own version of device continuity.

At Mystic Media, we’re constantly engaged in various app design projects. Our expertise reaches across all facets of the industry, be it iOS design, Android design, web design, strategic marketing and beyond. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Tilting the Playing Field: iPhone 6 Technology Expands Possibilities for iOS App Developers

The release of a new iPhone is always a major event. Apple is the most innovative and well-respected tech company in the world. This year, they’ve  already  released the iOS 8 (review our recent post Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition). Now, they’ve taken things a step further by unveiling not one, but two models for the latest iPhone: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The day Apple made the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus available, they were backordered for a month. Sales numbers aren’t in yet, but first weekend sales for the iPhone 5 were over 5 million. For iOS developers, it’s safe to say the playing field has changed. Here’s what you need to know about the new iPhones to stay ahead of your competition:

COMPARISON

For starters, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are separated by size and functionality. The iPhone 6 Plus is a phablet, teetering the line between smartphone and tablet with a larger screen (5.5 inch vs. 4.7 inch), more precise display (1920×1080 vs. 1334×750), better battery, and slightly higher price tag ($199 vs. $299) than the standard iPhone 6 counterpart. The iPhone 6 will satisfy the casual consumer, while the iPhone 6 Plus is a must-have for the hardcore techies and upscale buyers who need the latest and greatest.

SCREEN DISPLAY

For developers, among the biggest changes will be the screen size. Android developers have been dealing with device fragmentation for years. Unlike the transition from iPhone 4 to 5, in which the aspect ratio changed from 3:2 to 16:9, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus increase screen size from iPhone 5 while maintaining a 16:9 aspect ratio. This means there’s no black bars at either end of the screen when viewing content optimized for iPhone 5.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screens are not only larger, they are also better. Screens will now boast the notorious HD Retina Display currently available on MacBooks.

Another of the major factors which may cause developers to redesign their apps the latest models is the iPhone 6 Plus’s enhanced ability to display in landscape mode. Previous models didn’t have the screen space to effectively display much in anything other than portrait mode. The 6 Plus allows for the home screen to display in landscape mode in an iPad-like split view. Developers will have to take note of the increased screen real-estate and perhaps redesign their apps to creatively utilize the landscape mode.

TECHNOLOGY SPECS

Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are fully loaded with an A8 chip featuring second-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture, enhanced by an M8 motion coprocessor designed to efficiently measure user activity using advanced sensors. This allows the user to do more for longer periods of time. The A8 boasts 50x faster CPU performance and 84x GPU performance. The increased battery life on iPhone 6 can browse the web using LTE and 3G networks for 10 hours on standard models and 12 hours on iPhone 6 Plus.

METAL

Here’s the literal game-changer developers: in order to maximize the graphics performance out of the A8 chip and iOS 8, Apple is introducing Metal, a state-of-the-art program allowing CPU and GPU to work together to deliver top-tier graphics and complex visual effects. Metal provides the lowest-overhead access to GPU, features a streamlined API, compiled shaders, and support for efficient multi-threading. We’re excited to get working in the new program.

For more info, check out Apple’s Metal developer guide and this informative article over on GameFromScratch.

CAMERA

On their website, Apple boasts “The camera that changed photos now does the same for video.” It is quite a bold statement. The iPhone 6 iSight cameras now shoot real-time 1080p HD video at 60 frames per second, in addition to slow-motion video at 240 frames per second. The larger screen and HD Retina display certainly makes for a better viewing experience. The iPhone 6 Plus offers optical image stabilization, which stabilizes recorded images by varying the optical path to the sensor, making for smoother motion in video.

The iPhone 6 camera resolution remains at 8MP with the same sensor dimensions, pixel size, and lens specs found on iPhone 5s. The larger screen makes for a more detailed viewing area, but many Android users also enjoy larger screens. Apple has also made a major improvement to the iPhone’s ability to shoot at night with higher aperture and wider focal length, making for more crisper images. Compared side-by-side with the Galaxy S5, iPhone 5s, and Moto X, iPhone 6 takes the cake with most consistent results.

TOUCH ID and APPLE PAY 

Much has been said about Apple’s attempts to utilize fingerprint scanning technology as a security measure. The iPhone 6, in conjunction with iOS 8, puts into effect Touch ID: a fingerprint scanning technology which allows the user’s unique fingerprint to be used as a passcode to enter the iPhone, as well as to approve of purchases when used in conjunction with Apple Pay.

Apple Pay, expected release coming later in October, will scan your credit and debit card information to store it in your phone,  utilize Near Field Communication to make transactions in-stores, and allow users to approve purchases through Touch ID fingerprint scanning. The efficient combination of Apple Pay and Touch ID  may revolutionize check-out lines across the world.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Overall, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have improved in every sense over the iPhone 5. The increased screen-size and graphics capabilities provided by Metal have opened the door for developers to create high-tech graphics on a larger canvas. The camera shoots better in low-light and the optical image stabilization makes for smoother video. The slow-motion video capabilities are sure to light up the social media landscape. The combination of Touch ID and Apple Pay make the process of purchasing, both online and off, indelibly easy. Apple has once again changed the playing field for hardware. Now, the question is how iOS app developers and their competition will keep up.

Mystic Media is an app development, marketing, and web design firm providing a host of services to clients, from Android and iOS Development, Strategic Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and more. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815