The buzz around the iOS9 launch is just a day away with the release date announced as September 16. As the Director of Mobile Solutions at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), my objective is to create simple and contextual experiences for IHG guests to capture those mobile moments of need. A big part of creating these experiences is through adaptive content and leveraging the new Apple and Android capabilities from the OS to deliver seamless interactions and make our guests happy. While there are dozens of notable features set to come out with iOS9, here are three very powerful iOS9 features every company should consider using to increase customer satisfaction. Recognizing these features can take your app experience to the next level. To the user, these features are subtle and behind the scenes, but they can make a real difference to the overall user experience and in your app’s success.

1. Increasing the Discoverability of Your App for Less Cost

With over 1.5 million apps in the Apple App Store, finding apps that match a specific need can be a frustrating experience. Many apps are not top of mind even after they are installed on a users’ device. On average, only 26 apps are getting some level of monthly usage for each user. Over the past few years, the engagement time using the apps has increased, while the number of apps used per month has roughly stayed the same. We have all tried to search for an app only to discover the Open or Download button next to the app, indicating that we have already downloaded it at some point in time.

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For developers, getting more people to download your app is a key performance metric of every company that has ever built an app and deployed it to an App Store. In iOS9, Apple is opening its walled garden of the App Store to make search available through Siri, Spotlight, and Safari. Apple will have multiple ways of indexing the apps installed on your device, stored within iCloud, or available to download from the App Store. This feature will provide a new frontier of opportunities for App Search Optimization (ASO), which currently can only be done via the app title and keywords through iTunes.

The potential of this feature is huge because most people are searching for apps directly from their device when they are in the mobile moment of need. This is an area where ASO enthusiasts are ready to jump on as soon as iOS9 becomes available to start cracking the code for a new level of optimization. What’s more, this new free method of Apple ASO can help stretch marketing dollars even further by not having to only rely on Google or Facebook ads to create app awareness and generate app downloads.

2. Ensuring Users Keep Your App Installed

When thinking of user experience, it’s my job to think of issues that might arise with app installation. The majority of users constantly run out of space on their 16GB iPhone. This is a big concern for iPhone owners ­– people are constantly deleting apps off their devices when they are not frequently using them. This happens more than you think since the majority of iPhone users owns the 16GB version; in some countries it could be over 90%. To prove that data storage is such a high concern, some iPhone owners actually sued Apple over the 16GB phone’s available storage room since a lot of the space is taken up by the OS.

iOS9’s app thinning feature will dramatically reduce the bulk of the app sizes which is especially great for owners of the 16GB phones who frequently have to make room for new apps. Through app thinning our development team at IHG was able to reduce our app size by half. This will make a huge difference for our customers when they are deciding which apps to keep and which apps to delete. If every app developer does app thinning, it will leave their users’ phone with more valuable free space; meaning they will be able to store more of the apps they love.

3. Identifying + Fixing Performance Issues Before Users Experience Them

Anyone who has ever built an app runs into issues with defects, which they first discover through negative app store reviews. Currently, it’s difficult and very time-consuming to build a full front-end suite of test scenarios for every combination of interactions by a QA tester. Now with Xcode 7, the developers can record and create automated test flows that make creating tests extremely simple using the XCTest framework. UI recording will make your app test suites more complete because it will significantly reduce the time for your developers to create them. Xcode uses the elements in the UI of your application and sends them test events to allow you to debug and build a robust test suit. You can start to build a nice set of test cases to synthesize events. Developers will be able to see which lines of code were actually executed to help debug and improve the quality of the product.

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Xcode 7 will also bring insights into the energy usage of an iOS app through energy gauge it can tell you if you app is a battery vampire. iOS9 has the built-in capability to track energy on a per-process basis and show you an energy report. You can see how your app is managing battery life through your application, what happens when your app is idle, and what makes your app’s battery usage spike. Additionally, developers will be able to troubleshoot unexpected behaviors before the app is released to the App Store. By managing the power of your app using the Energy Efficiency Guide for iOS Apps, your users will be excited that you are not draining their battery and forcing them to recharge throughout the day. This is especially important in iOS9 because iPhone users can view a detailed breakdown of which apps have consumed the most battery power, via their settings.

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While Apple’s iOS9 is not touted as a revolutionary release from the user interface perspective, these three hidden nuggets have huge implications on overall user satisfaction. Your organization can significantly capitalize on these subtle new features to start making big impacts when it comes to helping people find, engage, frequently return to, and use your app.


The Author

Edie Kirkman is the Director of Mobile Solutions at the InterContinental Hotel Group. She leads mobile strategy, product management, and the delivery of integrated solutions to create the best guest experience. Kirkman has over 15 years of experience in software development, interactive marketing, and product management.

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Wow, automated testing is huge! Any mobile product manager who has had to wait for 3 days for an app release candidate to go through regression-testing can appreciate that. Hopefully, that automated testing can be run against older phone models and OS versions.

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