In two weeks, Apple is expected to announce the new iPhone 6 and release its latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 8.
And iPhone users are going to be blown away by a handful of apps that take full advantage of iOS 8’s new features, says Matt Johnston, chief marketing officer at app testing company Applause (formerly uTest). Applause is a Massachusetts-based startup that does crowdsourced testing of mobile apps for companies like Google, Microsoft, HBO, and Runkeeper.
Johnston says a lot of developers, particularly ones that write custom apps for enterprises like banks, media companies or retailers, are not jumping in to use the new features in iOS 8 just yet.
“A lot of them are standing back with the new stuff, and saying let’s hold off updating our apps for a month or a quarter,” he told Business Insider. “But the people that forge ahead and use the new features and get it right, their apps are going to appear borderline magic to their users.”
These new features will give iPhone/iPad users the ability to connect their apps together and with lots of devices: Mac computers and Apple TV, of course, but Johnston says iOS 8 will also introduce plenty of “Internet of Things” activities like making your phone talk seamlessly to your thermostat.
“There’s an amazing opportunity for app developers to differentiate themselves. A year from now, We’ll all be numb to it. We’ll think, of course this new app talks to Apple TV,” Johnston says.
Three New iOS 8 Features That Will Blow Us All Away
There are three new features supplying the app magic for most third-party apps, he says.
1. App Extensions, which will allow apps to work with one another and with all sorts of “Internet of Things” devices, sharing data between apps. (Android apps already share data in this way.)
2. Continuity, which will let your iPhone/iPad work seamlessly with your Mac letting you send data and files from apps from one device to another.
3. “Kits” specifically HealthKit, PhotoKit, and HomeKit.
HealthKit will connect iOS 8 to health devices and let them share data.
PhotoKit will let multiple apps work with photos and videos.
HomeKit is the Internet of Things tool for controlling connected devices in a user’s home.
When developers do use Apple’s new kits, HealthKit and HomeKit are most popular, Johnston says.
Waiting For The New iPhone
One big reason more developers aren’t yet taking advantage of the new features in iOS 8 is that Apple is expected to launch new screen sizes and a new iWatch.
App developers don’t know how their apps will look or perform on these devices and want to wait to get their hands on one.
Thing is, they don’t have to do that. Apple has given developers a tool called “adaptive layout,” which will allow their app to work on any size iOS device, Johnston says.
But many don’t want to use adaptive layout. “Some of them think they can create richer or more robust apps without this adaptive layout template getting in the way,” he says.
Old Apps Won’t Crash
Probably the best news with iOS 8 is that app developers are taking it seriously, from those that make consumer apps to those that write custom apps for companies like banks and retailers.
They have been updating, fixing, and testing their apps to make sure they won’t crash if users install the new OS on their existing phones, he says.
When iOS 7 was released, Johnston sounded the alarm to Business Insider, saying too many developers were not doing enough to prevent these kinds of crashes on fledgling operating systems. He advised people to wait a few weeks before upgrading.
Not so this time.
“Companies are more proactive than they were with iOS 7. A lot of companies were rushing to us days before iOS 7, pulling their hair out. More of them are testing to make sure their existing app works with iOS 8 and will not break or crash or have issues,” he says.
The upshot is: Johnston thinks people are going to love iOS 8, especially “in 3-6 months when more apps are taking advantage of Healthkit or Homekit or extensions, and apps are talking to one another. It enables amazing things,” he says.
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