App Clips: why Apple’s next big innovation needs to be on your product roadmap


7th July 2020


5 min


Sarat Pediredla

(This post was updated on Thursday 16th July 2020)

Apple’s App Clips are coming as part of its next iOS14 update later this year‚ but what are they and why do we think you should be so excited about them? Read on to find out more.

Ahead of the big launch of iOS 14 later this year‚ Apple used this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) to unveil major changes to the look and feel its mobile operating system. From widgets on your home screen to an overhauled app drawer‚ the next iOS update promises to be one of the biggest in recent memory.

However‚ the announcement that has got us babbling with excitement the most and the one that we think you need to start considering now is Apple’s upcoming App Clips feature.

What are App Clips?

App Clips provide users with a small slice of your app (no more than 10MB) to facilitate or encourage a specific action. Ordering a coffee‚ for example‚ or unlocking a bike share.

As they’re much smaller versions of the full-fat app experience‚ users will be able to access App Clips instantly without the need to download an app just by scanning a QR code or tapping an NFC tag.

App Clips have been touted as Apple’s spin on Google’s Instant Apps but that really sells short their potential to transform how you interact and engage with your customers.

Android Instant Apps remain a niche concern for the vast majority of Android users. App Clips‚ on the other hand‚ have the potential to become a key cog in your customer’s journey.

How do App Clips work?

Once iOS14 launches in Autumn/Fall 2020‚ available App Clips will be triggered by App Clip codes‚ QR codes or NFC tags‚ with a quick scan or tap bringing up an App Clip card on your device.

Tapping the App Clip card will open the App Clip allowing you to carry out a payment‚ follow instructions or one of the hundreds of other possible uses we’re likely to see. Most importantly for brands and businesses‚ App Clips also give the user the option to download the full app experience (or open it if they already have it on their device).

Integrations with Apple Pay and Sign in with Apple make the whole process seamless‚ allowing users to complete an action quickly and be on their way‚ without having to hunt around on The App Store for your app.

Why should you be excited about App Clips?

Discoverability is one of the foremost challenges for new apps in today’s App Store with over 2m apps currently vying for your attention and it’s a number that’s rising all the time.

With people spending 77% of their time in their top three favourite apps‚ grabbing and maintaining the attention of users is getting harder all the time. And with app retention rates falling 6% between 2018 and 2019‚ maintaining their interest is just as difficult.

App Clips will provide the perfect opportunity to get your app in front of new users and convert them into returning customers. By removing the friction points of discovering and then downloading your app‚ App Clips will give you a window to impress potential customers as part of a seamless customer journey.

Take the example of a coffee shop. Customers pay in a variety of ways with some using cash others using their card or Apple Pay‚ others might take advantage of the coffee shop’s own bespoke app.

There’s a whole raft of reasons why customers might choose cash and card payment over your own app‚ but two of the main reasons are likely to be discoverability and convenience. Taking the time to download and sign up for some users just isn’t worth the perceived hassle.

With App Clips‚ this barrier is immediately removed‚ making the process of payment through your own app even simpler than rummaging for change or fishing out a payment card.

Getting the jump on your competitors

We’re sure you’ll agree that the potential contexts and uses for App Clips are seemingly limitless. From restaurant reservations to car rentals and convenience food‚ it’s not a stretch to say that the only limit to the technology is the imagination of your mobile‚ design and product teams.

However‚ to jump on the potential of Apple’s latest innovation you need to start planning how App Clips might fit into your customer journey now. Waiting until they’ve already launched will already be too late.

To get your organisation ready for App Clips‚ check out our recent webinar where we explored in a little more detail about how App Clips work and shared some real-world use cases devised by our product team.

Embracing iOS App Clips to attract customers and increase conversions webinar.