App Clips help businesses improve app discovery and acquire more users

by: | Jul 2, 2020

Today’s app experiences run the gamut — from fully immersive, highly interactive sessions to a snippet of information at the very moment you need it. Apple recently introduced App Clips for iOS, which offers users a micro-experience without downloading an app — and gives businesses the chance to acquire new users outside of the crowded App Store.

How App Clips work

An App Clip is a valuable “clip” of an application available when it’s most relevant and valuable to users. In some ways, it’s like the classic try-before-you-buy experience. Users have a chance to have an engagement with a business before they fully commit to downloading their app. App Clips are small, on-demand files — with a maximum size of 10MB — and are downloaded in seconds, at the exact moment you need them.

App Clips can be designed to provide important information — or drive people to a transaction of some kind, e.g. “Buy a coffee now.”

If the App Clip provides value to the user, then there’s a better chance they’ll download the full version of the app. And even if users decide not to download the app, App Clips can improve a company’s digital reach — and help grow the overall customer base.

A user story: Ordering takeout with an App Clip

Imagine you are ordering takeout at a restaurant for the first time. As you’re browsing the menu on the restaurant’s website, you tap a banner that says “ORDER NOW.” An App Clip downloads in seconds, and through it you complete your purchase. The App Clip tells you when your order will be ready, and includes a link to join the restaurant’s loyalty program.

Hours later, after you’ve enjoyed your meal, you recall the loyalty program. At that point, you head to the App Store to download the restaurant app and register in the loyalty program so you’re ready for your next order.

Why companies should create App Clips

App discovery is always a hot topic among developers and brands, as acquiring new users with more than 2 million apps in the App Store is a huge challenge. Apple’s App Clips expand app discovery beyond the App Store, and gives companies the ability for users to discover their app in the exact context when it’s most valuable in their customer journey.

Another reason businesses should consider App Clips: It’s very similar to Google’s Instant Apps for Android. With similar capabilities now available on both Android and iOS, the business case for adding these features to your app is stronger.

App Clips trigger at the right time and place

App Clips can be triggered through a variety of sources that companies can use in physical locations, as well as their digital presence. According to Apple’s App Clips developer documentation, these include:

  • NFC tags
  • QR Codes
  • App banners through Safari browser
  • Links in Messages
  • Place cards in Apple Maps

As an example, if a user is shopping in a brick-and-mortar store and points their iPhone camera at a QR code on a product, or taps an NFC tag on a display, that action can launch an App Clip. Or, if someone is walking near a museum, they might see an available App Clip within Apple Maps that they can tap and launch.

How Apple App Clips and Google Play Instant Apps compare

Though Apple’s App Clips appear to work similarly to Google’s Instant Apps for Android — the two companies differ in how they position them. Google focuses more on providing a preview of apps, with a big emphasis on games. Apple wants developers to provide something valuable in the moment — including completing transactions without needing to download apps.

Other similarities and differences include:

  • Instant Apps can generate notifications only when the app is running in the foreground. App Clips allow businesses to send notifications within eight hours of a user launching your App Clip.
  • Once run, App Clips appear in the Recents category within the New App library (which makes it easier to discover the full app experience in the App Store). Google offers no history, making it harder to find previously used Instant Apps or make the connection to the full app.
  • Both App Clips and Instant Apps pass user data to the full apps after they’ve been installed, so the user doesn’t have to input the same information twice.
  • iOS asks user permission before opening each App Clip. Android only requests permission to open all Instant Apps the first time you use one — it won’t ask you again. It’ll just open the Instant App.

Interested in creating an App Clip?

Coming soon to the ArcTouch blog, our development team will walk through the step-by-step process for creating an App Clip. We’ll also cover how apps can use iOS Widgets to show slices of information at the moment users need it. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to get updates on our blog.

Contact us to learn more about App Clips or any of the exciting features coming in iOS 14. Our iOS developers are happy to provide an overview of the key takeaways that matter most to your business.