Say "Hello" to iOS App Clips

By Jeff Vincent|

September 30, 2020

Apple recently introduced App Clips, mini-versions of iOS apps that offer users a limited range of features associated with a full-scale iOS application.

App Clips are secured in the same way as all iOS apps and can be installed on a device by either tapping or scanning a physical App Clip install beacon that will be displayed in retail venues or elsewhere. These beacons come in a variety of forms, but the end result is the same. A user installs an App Clip by scanning or tapping one of the various types of possible beacons.

iOS App Clips

Once installed, the App Clip will remain on the phone for a limited time. The user will have the option to download the full app, or the App Clip will be automatically removed after a period of inactivity.

The idea is to provide users with opportunities to get immediate value from an application without requiring a full download. If an app is already installed, the events that would lead to the App Clip loading will instead load the complete app.

iOS App Clips

As a faux real-world example, Apple points to a coffee shop that has its own iOS app. Upon entering the coffee shop, users could install the App Clip immediately, and order their coffee via the app, rather than waiting in line to order.

App clips are built in Xcode, where an App Clip template must be completed for the “parent app”. There is a long list of items that the App Clip cannot be or contain, which seems to stem from Apple’s efforts to draw a clear line between ultra-lightweight applications and App Clips. 

Apple continues to draw this distinction by stating that “App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly. An ideal App Clip experience allows users to open and complete a task in seconds.”

To learn more about App Clips, check out the Apple Developer’s App Clips page

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