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iOS 12: How Location Intelligence Can Help Your App Take Advantage of Siri Suggestions

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LightBox Insights
October 11, 2018 5 mins

Apple’s iOS 12 is here, and it has the power to change the way that we interact with our iPhones. How can location intelligence help make sure your app is ready for this change?

At their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this past June, Apple demonstrated several new and improved features in their latest mobile operating system build, iOS 12, that stand to change the way that iPhone apps communicate with users. This, in turn, could impact which apps get used, and which ones eventually fade into the digital wasteland. With iOS 12 now available for public use, let’s take a closer look at how location intelligence could impact one such feature: Siri Suggestions.

What Are Siri Suggestions?

To begin, the Siri Suggestions feature was first introduced in iOS 9. In essence, your iPhone identifies the apps that you are likely to use based on factors such as your current location, the time of day, or even upcoming calendar events, and then it places these suggested apps beneath the search bar on your phone. With iOS 12 and the introduction of Shortcuts, a new feature allowing you to bundle together apps that you commonly use in tandem, Apple aims to make Siri a more helpful assistant by better tailoring its suggestions to your needs.

According to TechCrunch, in iOS 12 Siri Suggestions will now also appear on your Lock Screen if you typically use an app as part of your daily routine. For instance, a suggestion to launch your favorite workout app may pop up when you get to the gym, based on your location. Apple Watch users will even begin to see suggestions directly on their watch face. With suggestions set for a much more prominent role across Apple devices, it’s easy to see why it is so important to make sure that Siri recommends your app whenever appropriate. But how?

Enter location data.

Why Do Siri Suggestions and Location Data Matter to App Developers?

As part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to make Siri the most useful digital assistant possible, suggestions will evolve over time based on how individual users interact with them. If users routinely use a suggested app, then it will be prioritized in the suggestions container. Conversely, suggestions that are frequently ignored will be pushed further down a user’s watch face or out of the container entirely on their phones, according to TechCrunch.

In effect, a Siri Suggestion now acts as a supercharged version of a push notification. It is individually crafted for the type of action that a user is likely to take in a specific location or at a specific time based on the actions that they typically take at that place or time. Avid moviegoers may notice, for example, that Siri will now prompt them to switch their phone into Do Not Disturb mode until they leave the movie theater. It’s natural to assume that the expanded functionality of Siri Suggestions will have a corresponding effect on push notifications moving forward, and the next section will explore what that effect may be.

What Does This Mean for Push Notifications?

Based on the real estate that Siri Suggestions currently occupy on the iPhone home screen, and the new places that they are now beginning to pop up, many outlets (including TechCrunch) have begun to speculate that they will eventually supplant traditional push notifications altogether as a driver of app activity. New features in iOS 12 seem to support this hypothesis.

As Siri observes a user’s interactions with traditional notifications, the assistant will prompt them to turn off notifications from apps that they do not engage with frequently. Users can now also toggle a new notification setting, called “Deliver Quietly,” for app notifications that they would like to see in the Notification Center but do not want to appear on their Lock Screen or to receive a chime or vibration from. This function can be useful for users who want to know when it’s their turn to play a game, but don’t necessarily need to know in the middle of a meeting. Or, it may empower users to silence the restaurant chain or delivery service app that’s constantly pinging them throughout the day regardless of their location.

Siri Suggestions may one day replace push notifications entirely, but until they do, it is imperative that your app serves the most relevant notifications possible to users who are in the right place to use your app at the right time. As a developer, you have little control over the times of day in which people use your app, but you do have control over the accuracy of the location technology that your app utilizes. Moving forward, the more useful an app’s notifications are, the more likely that Siri will suggest that app when users are in a location to benefit.

How Can the DMP Platform and Location Intelligence Help?

In a crowded, location-driven industry, such as retail or food and beverage, you can be certain that your competitors are already looking for ways that they can use location intelligence to influence Siri Suggestions. This is especially true if you don’t have the luxury of a massive marketing technology budget like Starbucks or McDonald’s do. Remember, the likeliest outcome for apps that fail to capitalize on Apple’s increased emphasis on Siri Suggestions is that they will spend eternity wandering the digital wasteland, serving notifications to users who, at best, have these apps muted. If your business is playing catch-up, how can you harness the power of location technology to make your app’s notifications more actionable for potential customers?

With SpatialStream®, our proprietary web service, you can join several leading location-based applications in streaming SmartParcels content directly into your app in real time. SmartParcels combines our nationwide parcel boundary database with over 300 property and tax attributes to give you access to precise location information at all times. Utilizing precise location data allows your app to better recognize when users are at or approaching locations relevant to the service offered by your app. This gives your app a much better chance of serving a timely, relevant push notification that a potential customer can act upon as soon as they receive it. More importantly, this reduces the likelihood that a user elects to revoke notification privileges from your app, or banishes your notifications to “Deliver Quietly” purgatory. Over time, repeated interactions with your app in a specific location should gain you a valuable spot in Siri Suggestions. Users are willing to reward the apps that provide them something of concrete value, in real time, based on where they are.

Ready to take the next step? Our team would love to walk you through how SpatialStream® could be the location data solution for your app. Click here to request more information today!

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