5 new features in iOS 10 - and why they're important for B2B marketers

Jon Busby, digital director, Twogether, explores the potential benefits and drawbacks of Apple's recent iOS 10 release for B2B marketers

Apple's new phone and tablet operating system, iOS, has got its 10th release to the public. Previewed back at WWDC in June, Apple's annual release of OS software brings new features, functionality and phones to market, marking the beginning a new land grab race for app developers and brands alike to take advantage.

Being first to market using a new technology or ‘API’ as they’re called means a prominent place on the App Store, and hundreds of thousands more installs as new owners show off the features of their shiny device. 

Previous years have brought exciting new functionalities, such as Apple Pay and Apple Wallet - a feature we use every time we fly or buy a ticket nowadays, new sharing widgets, allowing third-party apps to post and share content more easily and push notifications.

So, what are the new features in iOS 10 that we should be excited about, and more importantly, which ones can B2B marketers take advantage of right now?

1. Updated mail app

One of the biggest, yet subtlest, changes in iOS 10 is updates to the Mail.app.  Some of the updates include “better” threaded conversations (more on why that’s in quote marks in a moment), and better search (this one really is better).

It all sounds wonderful, until you actually use, and find that some email rendering is now broken. For those of us in marketing, this means more time testing your emails before they’re ready to go out.

Continuing on the same, not so good, theme, iOS 10 email also features a new unsubscribe bar, appearing above the subject line on mailing list emails. For us marketers that means we’ll need to optimise our subject lines and email headings to ensure users aren’t tempted to unsubscribe (although more positively, it will mean our lists should be a lot cleaner and receive less complaints). 

Finally – on a good note – the video tag is now back to being supported – meaning it’s now possible again to allow users to engage with video directly in an email, instead of via a gif or landing page.

2. iMessages

Unfortunately, this is a feature we'll be seeing a lot more of. Some may say the iMessages app has gone the way of bloatware – but as usual, in marketing, there's a silver lining. iOS 10 brings a raft of new features to iMessages, allowing it to compete more effectively with the likes of Facebook's Whatsapp and Kik.

Two of the most notable additions are:

Links will now automatically contain ‘rich’ media. Post a Youtube video to a friend? It'll now embed the video in their feed. Share an article and it'll create a synopysis and include this in the message thread. This obviously is great for content marketing, and should (with some well placed content tweaks) make your articles easily sharable and more widely-read across Apple devices.

Emojis are now three-times bigger. This means it'll be easier to create ‘stickers’ (i.e. emojis or animated elements) that can be included in iMessage threads. If you've got some real brand advocates, this is a great way of getting people to use your logo or branding.  

Also introduced are ‘bubble’ effects and handwritten elements, but as Apple owns these aspects, it’s unlikely they will be available to the marketing function soon (perhaps in the next iOS release).

3. News

Over the past few iOS releases, Apple has been slowly evolving its news experience (starting with the failed Newstand App).  

This year, Apple has elected to take on Flipboard by producing a clear, engaging design for news articles. You can now also subscribe to feeds, and publications can even offer paid subscriptions.  

What’s more exciting though, is that users can now elect to receive breaking news as push notifications, making your content hub strategy even more exciting.

4. Machine learning

Apple is adding two key machine learning pieces to this release – both of which will be run locally on the iPhone and not involve the cloud. The first addition is Quicktype, which brings Siri intelligence to the keyboard, offering context clues and relevant suggestions when typing.  

Not too important for marketers, but if you're big enough to have a verb associated with your brand, it might be possible to start including contextual results in Quicktype as things grow.

Secondly, the photos app will now use ‘deep learning’ to link together photos and videos by person, place and time, automatically creating highlight reels and videos (similar to Facebook’s ‘moments’ feature). 

This is really impressive stuff considering it will all be performed locally on the phone, but what’s really exciting is the possibility to sneak your logo into the back-drop at an event, making it recognisable not just by your audience, but perhaps by Siri as well.

5. Siri APIs

Finally, Apple is opening Siri up to third party developers. Since its first introduction on the iPhone 4S, us techies have been attempting to customise Siri's response, and now Apple is opening this to other apps and services.  

This will certainly open up the playing field to some interesting applications that can be employed by B2B marketers. Have an upcoming event? Integrate with Siri to talk about the agenda. Want to push sales reporting to your users? Allow them to ask Siri. Expect to see a lot more updates here.

Ultimately, each iOS release includes a set of incremental features that get the market excited. However, those brands that know how to take advantage of these new functionalities will extend their reach and delight their users. I’m looking forward to seeing how the marketplace will evolve with the next iOS release.