The Personal Qualities of Apple's Mobile Devices
Apple is making a splash on the front pages of news sources with the announcement of their new products, the next generation of the iPhone, the iWatch, and a new payment system. Typical of a nation that both loves and loves to hate Apple, the tech company is getting coverage in digital, TV and print media with this release, though none of the products are completely original. The iPhone is simply the next iteration of Apple’s smart phone. The iWatch is not the first smart watch to market. And digital and mobile payment systems have been a key topic in the commerce and e-commerce industry for years.
The difference is, Apple is making everything personal. Tim Cook related during the great reveal that the iWatch was the most personal device they’d created yet. Considering the evolutions Apple has gone to get here, this is a big statement. From the getgo, it’s always been about the end user. Music – something marked for its personal appreciation – enjoyed an added layer of personal touch with the iPod which, among other things, made it easy for users to organize playlists to personal taste as well as purchase individual songs over committing to a full CD. The iPod was not the first digital music device, but it understood “personal” and clean interface better.
Again, Apple is late to market with a large screen phone. According to the Wall Street Journal 40% of global smartphones shipped in the second quarter were smartphones with screens larger than 5 inches. Apple is just now bringing the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus to the public. Yet, as we’ve always seen with Apple, the device will be priced aggressively. While I can’t speak for all the reasons why iPhones cost as they do, one key aspect of the new device isn’t the screen, but it’s ability to handle more of the user’s personal life: payments. The idea is a user can use their phone to pay for purchases at the register of a store without needing to fish around for his or her wallet. More than that, they’re looking for developers to embrace apps for this phone that let iPhone owners use their phone for just about anything you’d typically need a wallet to complete.
Vice President of Technology Kevin Lynch gave a preview into app potential during the reveal, as recorded by blogger Molly Wood of NYTimes blog:
“By building apps for the phone, for example, American Airlines will let you check in and track bags; Starwood will let you check into a hotel and even unlock your hotel room door by waving your watch in front of the door. That will be available at all W hotels around the world in the spring, Mr. Lynch says. Other apps add various features: BMW will show you where you parked or how much charge is left in your electric vehicle; Major League Baseball shows scores; Lutron apps show lighting; the Nike app lets you challenge your friends.”
The focus here isn’t on how big the phone is. Nowhere does he talk about how having a large screen will make it easier to check into a hotel or pay for your new shoes at checkout. The larger screen is a great feature which gives more landscape to the design in these apps, but that’s not what sets it apart from other smart devices. It’s the personal nature of the apps that will go on it.
Similarly, the iWatch will feature all things personal, covering everything from GPS to photos, exercise and health apps to the weather for your area. You can watch a teaser video about the iWatch on the Verge’s website, among other sources.
Oftentimes, when people look to make an app, the user experience and personal nature of the app is the last thing considered. Among the general public, it’s the passion of an idea (game, tool, content) that drives the project forward, and the majority of the energy is spent on trying to make the idea work. Among publishers, we see a number of companies that know they need to be on a mobile device, but the driving force is reaching more people while saving money on print. This usually results in creating a replica of a print edition, rather than an experience made for the mobile space. The end user is left opening an app clearly designed for purposes other than to meet their needs, which makes it obvious the app’s true design is to meet the publisher’s needs. All opportunity for a personal touch with your readers or end users is lost.
Instead, take a page out of Apple’s book. You don’t have to be the first to market to succeed in the mobile space. Mobile is about bringing personal touch and thought to technology, using it to enhance the end user’s life and leave them wanting more. More content. More interactivity. More engagement with your brand. The space isn’t stale, though it is cluttered. Stand out, like Apple, by being intentional in what you are providing for your app users. If you don’t know where to start, consider partnering with a company that understands the mobile space and can help you create an app that focuses on the reader. Nxtbook Media has a Strategic Services team devoted to assessing your audience and brainstorming what your audience needs from you. Or, look around at what others are doing, and see if there’s a personal touch you should be offering in your content. The key is to use the mobile space as it was intended: as a means of connection between your offerings and your audience, no matter where they are.