I’ve been an Apple user for quite some time now. One of the things I like the most about working with their devices is the possibility to connect them as if they were a single one. As one can expect, the result is stronger than the individual parts. I can get the most out of them by sending files from one to the other, by establishing various desktops, and by using the device that best suits a particular task. I can use my MacBook for tasks like working on a spreadsheet or use my iPad for sketching out ideas. Features like Airdrop make work a delight.
As someone who works in the tech industry, I also find their OS to be superb. Their UX is definitely one of the best. In short, their passion for innovation is something unique. But enough praise for the things we already know. It is more interesting to talk about that which you probably don’t know yet. If you have not guessed it by now, I’m referring to Apple’s recent announcement that they will start implementing a “universal purchase” feature for their apps.
So if you have no idea what I’m talking about just keep on reading. This will surely be something that may benefit your app. In this post I will discuss what Apple’s universal purchase feature is, how it will impact the world of app development, and how to make the best of it.
Customers and Universal Purchase
Apple’s universal purchase feature allows customers to acquire an app throughout their Apple devices with a single purchase. This means that, for example, you can buy an app for your iPad and it will automatically be available for your other Apple devices at no extra cost. This works for all their platforms: macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
Yes, you read that correctly. And if that weren’t enough, this also applies to in-app purchases. Anything you buy in an app will automatically be available on your other devices with the same app. That is some serious universal purchase philosophy.
This makes part of Apple’s larger strategy of “port” apps that can move freely between devices. What they seek to do is integrate their devices as if they were one, something they have been doing for some time now, so this is not really something that popped out of the blue. It is just the next stage of a long evolution. As a matter of fact, the universal purchase feature had been announced since last year and various steps had been announced in this direction. It was just a matter of time for it to be officially deployed. Twitter was one of the first to announce their transition to Mac through Apple’s Project Catalyst, the first of many steps that have led to the universal purchase feature.
As of the moment of writing this, it is unclear which apps will initially embrace this feature, yet it is expected that many will soon hop on board. What intrigues everyone the most is what new functionalities apps will develop given the new possibilities of connecting devices through universally distributed apps. I guess that will ultimately depend on how creative developers and designers can get. The possibilities are endless.
App Development and Universal Purchase
One of the best things about the universal purchase feature is that it not only impacts customers. Developers and designers also benefit from this move, so the real winner ends up being the app development process. In general, mobile app development companies will be able to distribute apps across devices easier than before.
App development teams (at least at Koombea) are happy that this measure is in place. With universal purchase, iOS teams have reasons to become Mac experts. Even better, they have reasons to become experts for all other Apple OS devices; this shortens the time to market of cross-platform apps. This, in turn, means that app development companies can now have entire teams of Apple developers rather than just iOS developers. It suddenly seems that ‘iOS app development’ has become ‘Apple development’.
How to use Universal Purchase
The specific benefits of the universal purchase feature will depend on the functionalities of each app. However, the first step is to set up the right configurations. Configuring an app to be distributed across Apple’s devices can be done without major difficulties. To do this, development teams need to use Apple’s StoreKit, the tool that connects apps to the App Store. The same applies in order to configure in-app purchases that work with the universal purchase feature.
At Koombea we consider the best alternative to do so is to configure the universal purchase feature through a quality development partner; remember that cheap is expensive in the long term. Only by doing so will your app be in safe hands.
This is also the time to optimize your app to make the most out of this new feature. By having your app distributed across various devices you can now engage with your customers in new ways. New functionalities can surely be embedded in your app’s existing ones. Optimization will require not only configuring your existing app features to the new possibilities but also ideating new features that were not feasible before.
At Koombea we have more than 12 years of experience helping clients develop world-class apps. We have broad expertise with iOS, so we’d be more than glad to overhaul your app. This is a great opportunity Apple has given you so that you can deliver greater value to your customers. Don’t let it go to waste. Contact us.