Apple on Wednesday will debut a variety of products. But travel app marketers and developers may be more interested in the company’s latest mobile software, iOS 12 — expected to become available by the end of next week.
The software update aims to make it easier for iPhone users to manage notifications from their lock screen and to fine-tune the types of messages they want to receive.
In good news for marketers and developers, Apple is allowing newly installed apps to be pushier. It is enabling apps to push notifications quietly for two weeks before having to obtain consent from the user. Until now, consent was required upfront.
The new mechanism rewards apps that are being strategic about their push notifications, said Brett Caine, CEO and president of Urban Airship, a digital customer engagement business that helps power notifications for brands like Alaska Airlines. It gives the apps an opportunity to boost their opt-in rate for push notifications.
On the flip side, Apple is giving consumers a one-click option to shut an app’s notifications off indefinitely right when the user sees the first notification right in that first notification itself.
Apple is giving customers more options to fine-tune the notifications they receive. For example, business travelers could opt to have all notifications about, say, flight delays, be pushed to their lock screen and be accompanied by noise or vibration. Alternatively, they could banish marketing messages to the notification center to be looked at another time.
Apple is essentially creating two broad categories of notifications. Prominent notifications interrupt the user and appear on the device’s lock screen. Quiet notifications — meaning no sounds or banners — go to the phone’s notification center, where the user can browse through them or swipe away the next time the user looks.
In other words, new group notifications functionality enables travel companies to categorize alerts based on their relevance to where travelers are during their trips.
Game of catch-up
Apple’s changes are in many ways a move in catching up to rival Android devices, which have made it easier to manage notifications for quite some time. That said, Apple has 1.3 billion active devices worldwide, so any changes it makes still cause ripple effects for mobile app design and marketing strategies.
Apple’s changes also are about competing with Facebook Messenger, however, which for many users is becoming a central default communication and news app. Both notifications center and Messenger are competing to be the daily dashboard people use to.
Earlier this month, Dutch airline KLM began using Messenger to automatically rebook passengers and send them their new boarding passes after a flight is canceled. It also began sending to select passengers digital vouchers redeemable for food or beverages at the airport’s outlets when flights are delayed, as an apology.
Leisure travel apps are also affected, of course.
“Overall, the update is the biggest shift in push notifications since Scott Forstall announced APNS (Apple Push Notification Service) 10 years ago,” said Morris, of Travelport. “It’s never been a better time for travel brands to invest in a traveler-centric messaging strategy. If you don’t, expect a lot more of your iPhone users to listen to you more quietly in the future.”
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