Apple, iOS 6.0, Retina and Marketers: WWDC 2012 Wrap Up

Top Line: What Marketers Need to Know about the WWDC Announcements

  • Facebook will be integrated into iPhones and iPads at the operating system level, just like twitter. Sharing mobile photos & videos will be easier.
  • Passbook signals Apple’s move into mobile payments and should be on every brand’s loyalty program list of to-dos. Geo-located deals will be next.
  • Upgades to the iOS browser will make participation in brand promotions centered on user-generated content (UGC) much easier.
  • The retina display – a high-resolution display on iPhone 4+ and iPad 3 – is now available on the MacBook Pro laptop. High-resolution displays will create a website production and photography concern in the near future.

Apple held its annual “Worldwide Developer’s Conference” (WWDC) today in California. Typically a platform where new hardware and OS releases are announced, this conference is easily misunderstood as a techie event. However, the new products and features announced today definitely present impacts – and opportunities – for marketers. Here’s our rundown.

Facebook Integration into iOS

We’re stoked for this one. We know that use of Facebook on mobile devices is skyrocketing (much to investors’ chagrin), but as the digital agency for the social age, haven’t had as many opportunities to take advantage of it as we need for brands. In fact, the first question we asked the iAd team when we learned about Tweeting from within an iAd was “Can we ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ from here?” We probably owe them a re-assuring hug right about now.

The Facebook integration is light, but important. To name a few features, users will be able to post and share from within apps, particularly useful for posting from the Camera and Photos. They’ll also be able to update their location from within the new iOS maps app. Users need only sign into Facebook once for all of this. Note that Facebook brand pages and canvas apps are unaffected by this.

Why it’s important

  • Overall, posting will be much easier.
  • In-app activities will now be able to be shared via the Facebook iOS API. If you own a branded app, you can now allow people to share from within that app. There will be a public API for this.
  • The maps integration could lead to a possible resurgence of Facebook Places, which is interesting in the context of foursquare’s recent redesign.
  • This could make Facebook an even bigger player in mobile photos. iOS photos currently account for 45% of photos on Twitter, largely a product of similar integration so this bump is something to take seriously.
  • This could challenge Facebook-owned Instagram, and Facebook’s newly released (and redundant) camera app.

It is important, though, to note that this is specifically not a full open graph API integration, so the things we’ve come to love about that on the web still won’t be native. But don’t worry, you can still integrate via a browser login (OAuth), like today.

Passbook

Passbook is a nifty app suite that manages your loyalty cards, boarding passes, tickets and coupons all on your device. It is also place and time aware – your lock screen will present you with your boarding pass when you enter the airport, for instance. Unlike Google Wallet, which sits between the consumer and the retailer, Passbook sets out to simply create a better and more useful experience.

Why it’s important

  • This signals Apple’s move into mobile wallets, and potentially mobile payments in the future.
  • If you’re a retailer, you want to be here.
  • If you have a loyalty program or platform, you want to be here.
  • If you’re a CPG brand, you want deals and programs for your products on here.
  • Passbook is time and location based, geo-targeted deals won’t be far behind.

Safari

It’s not that common that a browser upgrade has such relevance to marketers. But here’s a really small feature that’s BIG news to us (and brands): iOS6 will allow you to upload photos and videos from your phone, directly to a website through the browser. Why’s that big? Video and photo user-generated content (UCG) promotions have long been a struggle to make user friendly – the barrier to entry usually dissuades participation. Sure, everyone has a video camera in their pocket, but the only way to submit content to brands has been through email, a custom app, or having to sync to a desktop. We can finally deliver UGC programs that are aligned to how people create content.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display

First, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t drooling over these, but they raise a pretty big concern about the future of web design and development.

Remember when you bought a high-def TV, and were disappointed with how poor standard definition broadcasts looked on it? That’s what’s going on here. A gorgeous 15” 220ppi display is going to magnify all the flaws of a 72ppi compressed-for-web jpeg.

This issue was largely ignored on the iPhone because the screen was small enough, but began to cause some rumblings when the new iPad was announced. Now instead of consuming information on the go, users were sitting down and focusing on content. Apple silently updated their website to accommodate this as well.

Already, there are a handful of solutions out there to help web developers address the issue by automatically delivering higher-res assets to devices that can use them such as retina.js and Retina Images. But both of these add another layer of consideration and complexity to web development (and site performance), not to mention the impact on creative teams that must deliver high-res assets.

When it comes to display advertising and banners, we can’t help but be concerned about how our squeeze-every-kilobyte-we-can out of it banners and fallback images are going to look. We’re interested in how the ad platforms will respond over the next few years.

The good news is that for now, the impact is limited to iPads (nothing to sneeze at) and one pricey professional laptop model. Knowing how technology trickles down to the masses, this is a trend that could finally prove problematic in 3-4 years as (if) the mix of high res displays increases.

Overall

These keynotes are always exciting for us, because they represent a peek into where mobile platforms will likely be going over the next 3-4 years. Since the introduction of the iPhone Apple has become the dominant influencer in this space. And as always, seemingly small but cool announcements can create big trends and big opportunities for brands.

Ken Kraemer and Michelle Barna contributed to this post.