Apple unveiled the latest version of its mobile operating system, which at last opens up the company’s Touch ID biometric fingerprint scanner to developers.
Bill Siwicki , Editor, Mobile
Early in May, PayPal introduced biometric fingerprint scanning checkout to mobile commercefor consumers who own the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, which comes with built-in biometrics technology. It was big news because it was a giant step toward ridding the mobile shopping checkout process of all the friction of typing in the requisite information to complete a purchase. Three taps of the finger and a PayPal order is complete.
Apple Inc. is moving in the same direction.
Apple today debuted iOS 8, the latest version of its mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and iPod Touch. And the company has opened up its biometric fingerprint scanning technology on the iPhone 5s (and soon multiple versions of the iPhone 6) to developers. Now, retailers can build true one-touch checkout into their iOS apps. A retailer would associate a consumer’s default shipping and payment information with that consumer’s fingerprint. One touch of a Buy Now button and checkout is over before it started.
“iOS 8 is going to have a major impact on how consumers interact with brands in the mobile commerce space and will simplify the shopping experience,” says Bobby Emamian, co-founder and CEO of Prolific Interactive, a firm that designs and develops mobile-optimized sites, responsive design sites, and mobile apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It has built apps for retailers including Threadless, ModCloth, Lululemon and Rent the Runway. “We are really excited about how companies will be using Touch ID. For the first time, users can sign into third-party apps via touch, and more importantly, will have a simple touch-to-buy experience in checkout.”
And Apple is expanding the ways in which a consumer with an Apple device can send and receive messages, particularly through Apple’s iMessage platform and push notifications.
“With the app widgets/notifications feature, a retailer like The Home Depot could enable users of its app to receive push notifications when items go on sale, or even when items they think the customer might like, or have previously viewed, go on sale,” says Brian Klais, CEO of Pure Oxygen Labs, a mobile marketing firm. “It’s the perfect realization of ‘RSS feed meets personalized marketing,’ delivered to your phone. The retailer could be creative in allowing app users to subscribe to different kinds of notifications (sale items, items of interest). A brand’s most valuable customers tend to be app users, and this enables them to buy more and buy more often via personalized, opt-in, push notifications.”
Apple also is investing heavily in app search and app discovery in its App Store, Klais says. (The July issue of Internet Retailer magazine will feature a survey about e-commerce and m-commerce technology trends. Please click to take part in the short survey.)
“New options for enabling discovery of retailer iOS apps include ‘trending searches’ in the App Store, video previews of apps, and bundling of apps to be downloaded, say for brands that offer dedicated commerce apps as well as how-to apps,” Klais says. “The App Store will also feature an Editor’s Choice tag for apps that meet quality guidelines. All of these features and more will enable savvy retailers to explode mobile commerce via Apple devices this year.”
Apple iOS 8 also offers tight integration between all Apple computers and mobile devices owned by an individual or family, and includes brand new Apple apps called HealthKit and HomeKit that enable an iPhone or iPad to link to Internet-enabled devices throughout the home or worn by a user, the combined mass of such devices known as “the Internet of Things.” This places mobile devices at the heart of expanded Internet connectivity, as the command centers through which a consumer one day will be able to control just about anything, mobile experts say.
“With iOS 8, Apple’s continuity between Mac, iPad and iPhone demonstrates the importance of cross-device communication, which is a key element for advertisers,” says Benny Arbel, CEO of myThings, a cross-platform advertising firm. “Advertisers need to be able to reach consumers and have continuity among all devices since consumers today are on multiple devices all the time. Targeting a consumer who has a full, unpurchased shopping cart on their iPad may need to be retargeted on that consumer’s iPhone. This type of communication is crucial toward effective marketing.”
A new keyboard in iOS 8 will offer auto-fill suggestions for likely next words or phrases. If a user, for example, has typed in “125 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2900” multiple times in the past, merely typing in “125 S” could call up the full address, which a user would simply touch to enter, saving time and effort during such tasks as mobile checkout. Also, iOS 8 allows users to download third-party keyboards if they would prefer to use a keyboard other than Apple’s.
Apple iOS 8 will be available to consumers in the fall. A beta version is available now for developers with Apple accounts.