iOS 16 Shared with You: Increase your app engagement

by: | Jul 19, 2022

There are millions of apps, billions of websites, and probably trillions of pieces of digital content. So how do we know which content we want to spend our limited time reading, listening, or watching?

One of the most common ways we decide is through shared content that comes from our trusted friends or family members. After all, if they like it, we probably will too.

That’s why Apple’s updated Shared with You feature in iOS 16 is a big deal for app builders. For the first time, using the new Shared with You API, iOS developers can enable app users to see all the content that’s been recommended in Messages by trusted friends and family from within the app. And at any time, users can tap on the contact that shared the app’s content and continue their Messages chat without leaving the app they are in.

It’s a win-win for app user experience designers and app marketers alike. An app that supports Shared with You makes it easy for users to enjoy content recommended by people they trust — which in turn promises to increase app use and engagement, metrics that marketers watch closely. In combination with other iOS 16 features that can increase app engagement like the Lock Screen widgets and App Intents, app makers should rush to update their apps to support iOS 16.

In this post, we’ll explain the ins and outs of the updated Shared with You feature in iOS 16.

What’s the new iOS 16 Shared with You feature?

In iOS 15, the feature was only available to users within Apple’s own apps. For iOS 16, Apple has released the Shared with You API to third-party developers so they can support the feature in their apps. The feature is very similar to the version in iOS 15, though the new version has some additional customizations that can affect what the content looks like inside an app. If someone shares a content link with a friend in Messages, the friend can click the link and be taken to either the app (if they have it installed) or the website where that content lives. And users will be able to see all the content that’s been shared with them from within the app interface.

How does Shared with You work from a user experience point of view?

When you tap a link from an app’s content that has been shared with you in Messages, you will be directed to the associated content in the app, provided you have the app installed. If you don’t, you’ll be taken to a website with the same content and usually given the option to download the app. Inside the app, you’ll see all of the content that’s been shared with you, along with the names of contacts who sent it from Messages. Users can also tap on the names of their contacts to open a Messages thread without leaving the app.

Apple applies some logic to determine the order of shared content you see, based on a combination of Siri suggestions, whether the content is pinned, and recency. Users have complete control over shared content — you can choose to enable or disable Shared with You within each conversion, within the application, or as a global setting.

example of iOS 16 Shared with You showing playlists

Source: Apple’s developer website

Will my data be shared with an app when I share its content?

No, the contact name that displays within the Shared with Me section of an app displays directly from the Messages app. So, if your friend shares a piece of content with you, you’ll see their name from Messages in the app, but no data is stored there.

What are some examples of Shared with You in apps?

Here are a few examples of how to take advantage of this feature:

  • E-commerce apps can make it easy to see recommendations from trusted contacts and help increase sales of those products.
  • News apps can make it easy for users to see all the important stories friends have shared with them through Messages.
  • Movie and TV show apps can allow users to easily see each other’s favorite videos and continue conversations about them without leaving the app.
  • A cooking app could allow you to see your friends’ recommended recipes without leaving the app.

How will this improve the app user experience?

First, the updated Shared with You makes it easy to see shared content from friends and family within their favorite apps. You’ll have a dedicated space to find the content that’s been shared with you – which carries a personal recommendation. Think of it like a good friend suggesting you watch a movie or read an article. You’ll see these recommendations anytime you access the app. You’ll also be able to tap on your friend’s name to open the Messages thread where that content was shared – so you can respond without leaving the app.

example of iOS 16 Shared with You trusted friends

Source: Apple’s developer website

How does this help brands and companies?

One of the best types of marketing for any brand is recommendations that come from loyal customers. Shared with You can help increase app engagement through word-of-mouth marketing. When users see content shared by someone they trust — and maybe by more than one person — it can increase app usage and potentially increase sales and downloads. Supporting this feature is a great way to drive app downloads for first-time users and increase the engagement of returning users with your app.

How do developers support Shared with You in iOS 16?

There are three basic steps to support Shared with You in your app.

First, you must adopt Universal Links. When users share a Universal Link in Messages, and the recipient clicks on it, it will either take them to the native app (if they have it installed) or a website with the same content. You can read more about how to implement Universal Links on Apple’s developer website.

Next, you must create a Shared with You “shelf” where the content is displayed within the application. And last, you must add the attribution to the content, which displays the name/ID of the person who shared the content. After these three items are implemented, iOS 16 users will be able to see the content shared with them in the supporting app.

All of these steps are fairly straightforward with the Shared with You API, which will be available in iOS 16. Apple’s development team offers more detail about how to support this in your app.

What happens if someone doesn’t have an app for the content shared with them?

Shared with You uses Universal Links, which includes code that, when tapped, will send people to an app if it is installed. But if a user doesn’t have an app, the Universal Link will send people to a website with related content in their default web browser. Companies often include a link from their website to promote their app, which can be set to only appear for those users who don’t already have the app installed.

Does the new Shared with You work on iPadOS or watchOS?

The new Shared with You API will be available for the new versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Mac Catalyst, and tvOS. Apple does not provide compatibility with watchOS.

Need to update your app for iOS 16?

Shared with You is just one of the exciting new iOS features to help increase app engagement. ArcTouch is happy to review your app and provide recommendations to take full advantage of all the advancements in the upcoming iOS 16 and Android 13. Contact us to set up a free consultation.