WWDC21 Recap: Notifications Summary, Digital Wallet IDs, iCloud+ & More

Mike Herrick SVP of Technology

It’s that time of year again: Apple’s WWDC! Like the previous year, WWDC21 was virtual and like every year, jam-packed with a ton of updates for their latest upcoming version: iOS15. The team at Airship put together relevant highlights from the keynote, including updates to notifications, digital wallet and privacy, that you should know about. Here we go:

iOS 15 Is Coming 

iOS 15 made its debut with a preview and a developer beta (public beta will be next month and the official launch will be in the Fall). The new version will come with a lot of updates, including new features for Notifications, Apple Wallet and privacy. While you’re waiting for this update (and possibly for the iPhone 13), make sure you’re up-to-date with iOS 14.5. This current version offers more choice when it comes to users’ privacy, and means big changes for advertisers, as well as how brands need to get closer to customers than ever through their mobile apps. You can read about iOS 14.5 and how to adapt your marketing strategy here.

Notifications Get a New Look and a Summary View

Notifications on iPhones will look a little different in iOS 15, with new contact photos on personal notifications and bigger app icons for brand logos making it easier for users to identify and quickly scan the different notifications they receive. Users will also get more control of when they get their notifications with new status modes called Focus. This allows Apple to suggest and the user to choose the notifications and contacts that alert during specific time frames such as “Work” or “Personal.” When the Focus mode is on, a status is indicated in Messages and other communication apps, providing your contacts a heads-up.

Notifications will have more fine grained controls. Users can specify the notifications they want to receive immediately and those that they would like to be grouped together as a  “Notification Summary” and delivered on a schedule. The summary will arrange the notifications by priority based on the user’s app habits and user configuration, while personal notifications like messages will not be included.

Image Credit: Apple

IDs and (More) Keys Come to Apple Wallet

Apple Wallet is adding more features with the stated goal of replacing physical wallets. Along with Apple Pay, transit passes and even Disney Park passes, Apple Wallet will also store identity documents like driver licenses and other state identifications (among those participating). Users can easily scan their state-issued IDs into Apple Wallet and they will be encrypted for security. The TSA is preparing to accept these digital IDs.

Apple Wallet is also adding more keys. Last year they rolled out car keys for select car brands and now with iOS 15, keys for your home, work (with corporate badges) and hotels will be available. Hyatt Hotels will be rolling out the digital keys in the fall for their guests. 

Image Credit: Apple

More Privacy Options for iOS 

Like Google’s I/O event a couple of weeks ago, WWDC also put a big focus on privacy. iOS 15 will come with more privacy protections (along with iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8). 

One big privacy feature is for emails. The new Mail Privacy Protection feature for the Mail app will prevent senders from using invisible pixels to collect user information and will hide IP addresses, location and whether the email was opened or not. Safari saw a similar privacy update that obscures IP addresses in iOS 14.5. Safari users will be able to see which trackers are seeing their information in a privacy report.

App users will also get a privacy report that has an overview of how apps are using permissions users previously granted, including how often the app accesses user location, photos, contacts and more. This overview will also show third-party domains that the app is contacting, meaning brands will need to understand the behavior of SDKs in their apps and ensure the practices align with their own. 

Image Credit: Apple

iCloud+ New Privacy Features

Apple’s iCloud also got new privacy-focused features grouped together called iCloud+. Private Relay is a VPN-like encryption feature that routes your Safari internet traffic through two relays for greater security and anonymity while browsing. Another iCloud+ feature is Hide My Email, which will allow users to use unique and random email addresses to fill out forms, which will be forwarded along to users’ real email accounts. This is the exact same privacy option offered by Sign in with Apple, which as of April 2021 apps are required to offer to their users if they employ other social sign-on services. 

Customizable App Store Product Pages

Every element of your App Store page can have an impact on downloads and Apple will now enable app publishers to customize descriptions, preview, screenshots and in-app events to better target different types of users. With a cockpit-view seat to how impactful experimentation can be to drive dramatic gains from both messaging and in-app experiences, Airshippers are excited to learn more and see how we might be able to help. 

Our team at Airship will be attending WWDC all week. As always, we’ll be making updates to our service to support iOS 15 and take advantage of the new capabilities. To learn more about our iOS 15 plans and how we can help you, contact us

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