Start-Up Marketing Update: iOS 16 and Customer Engagement

In this version of our start-up marketing update, we look at opportunities for start-ups to leverage the recent launch of iOs 16 and the iPhone 14.

 Apple is one of the most popular phone brands in Sub-Saharan Africa according to a recent Sagachi Research study .

Of course we know that marketing needs to be targeted to specific groups of consumers or businesses in order to be relevant and effective. If your business is targeting melenial consumers in the UK for instance, then the popularity of smart phone opperating systems would look quite different. According to a recent YouGov survey, Apple very much dominates when it comes to melenials in the UK. 


The privacy of iOS users was a central topic of announcements made in 2017, with many new features introduced to increase users’ transparency and agency over the collection and use of their data. This year at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) we saw that customization was a central theme. With many of the new features announced geared toward making the iOS user experience more tailored to the individual.

Key Start-Up Marketing Updates

As a start-up marketing agency, our focus is on supporting start-up marketers to market more effectively. So what does the iOs 16 update mean for customer engagement?

Push Notifications for the Safari Browser on iOS

In Brief: You are familiar with push notifications. You have obviously heard of mobile push notifications. In order to reach mobile users in conjunction with Safari, Apple is now leveraging an open standard to introduce iOS Web Push. As of 2023, web push notifications will be supported on the mobile iOS in addition to the desktop OS version of Safari. When enabled, web push notifications appear just like native mobile pushes, even when Safari is closed. Users will be prompted to opt in to receive these notifications.

While this is a significant shift for Apple, it brings the possibility for websites to easily reach their visitors with out-of-product messages, and this has been possible on Chrome and other browsers for quite some time. Apple has traditionally prioritised its mobile app platform when it comes to supporting brands’ customer engagement efforts, so this shift can be seen as something of a catch-up move. However, this shift helps to support the need for Apple to serve businesses and consumers on the mobile web in light of the increased scrutiny of its App Store ecosystem (and related fees) over the past few years.

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What iOS 16  Mean for Customer Engagement

This update is great news for businesses that have websites or Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), as they will be able to send push notifications to iOS users even when they aren’t using their website. To capitalise on the imminent growth of your push-enabled audience, brands that see traffic from iOS devices should start formulating their push primer strategy immediately.

start-up marketing update - push notifications

Online Alerts for Real-Time Events

The Live Activities API, introduced in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, allows product development teams to keep users apprised of the most up-to-date information for an activity or event, such as a grocery delivery, a current workout, a live game, or an ongoing ride share, right from the lock screen.

To stay current with their activities, users today are subjected to either constant push notifications or frequent product visits.

This could be used to great effect by brands like Mr Delivery, to notify hungry customers on the progress of their orders. From the moment a user completes their order on the website to the moment the food they ordered arrives at their door, they can receive push notifications to track their food. In a simmilar vane, someone waiting for their Uber in Cape Town can be updated on the progress of their ride via timely alerts. 

Bottom Line: Live Activities Notifications can help product teams streamline the delivery of relevant information to users via their preferred method of access—the lock screen. 

Second, A New Take on the Lock Screen

What It Is: Apple broke the monotony of the Lock Screen for iOS devices by unveiling a brand new experience at the beginning of this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote. Users are no longer limited to the same Lock Screen as everyone else; they can change the Lock Screen’s appearance (including the colour and font of the time display) and the information they can see before they unlock their device.

Notifications will now roll up from the bottom of the screen instead of appearing at the top, there will be new widgets to display information quickly, and the Live Activities API will soon allow third-party apps to display live updates on the Lock Screen.

What This Means for Customer Engagement

The new Lock Screen experience provides businesses with iOS apps with additional channels through which to communicate with their target audiences and provide timely, relevant updates and information.

While the Live Activities feature is useful in a number of contexts, it is especially useful for companies that send time-sensitive push notifications (such as sports scores, breaking news, and delivery updates) because it allows them to consolidate a stream of updates into a single Lock Screen widget that updates in real time. Consider a food delivery app: rather than receiving a separate push notification for each update, users can view the status of their order as it is being prepared in a Live Activities widget on the Lock Screen.

However, this functionality introduces both new difficulties and possibilities: In particular, those in marketing who decide to use Live Activities will need to set up rules for when to use Live Activities and when to use push notifications to ensure they don’t overwhelm their users with too much communication via these channels. Marketers who want to take advantage of this new functionality should prioritise their relationship with the product and engineering teams to ensure alignment with the Apple Live Activities API.

Engage customers with customization that promotes digital health.

Apple has made some changes to the lock screen so that users can make their phones more useful and aesthetically pleasing right away. Users now have more leeway to customise their iOS devices to their liking than ever before thanks to additions like the Lock Screen gallery, stylized date and time, Lock Screen switching, and Lock Screen editing.

With the new photo depth effect, the subjects of your photos will pop out from the rest of the lock screen background, giving your phone a sleek, commercial look that’s straight out of an Apple ad. The lock screen’s notifications have also been updated to slide in from the bottom, so that they won’t obscure the user-created lock screens. In a similar vein, the album art is now more prominent when using Apple Music.

Apple improved upon the capabilities of the lock screen by letting users add widgets from any app they choose to the screen. Developers can now add widgets to the lock screen in order to provide users with easier access to their apps. When using an Apple device, users can quickly take in information without having to unlock the device or launch an app.

Widgets are a powerful tool for our fintech clients, allowing them to see up-to-date account information and prompt them to take necessary measures to maintain their financial well-being. Widgets can be used by our healthcare clients to motivate more exercise and data sharing amongst themselves. 

New Filters for the Focus Mode and Other Improvements

What It Is: At last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple introduced Focus Modes, which are essentially different levels of Do Not Disturb that iOS users can switch between as needed. By activating a “Work” Focus Mode, for instance, you may find that your access to social media apps, private messages, and other time-wasters is restricted.

start-up marketing update - focus mode

Focus Modes on iOS devices are getting an overhaul this year, according to an announcement from Apple. Focus filters, one of the new personalization features, lets users get very specific with how Focus Modes work within individual apps; for example, a user can set up a Focus filter in the Apple Mail app that conceals personal emails when the “Work” Focus Mode is enabled.

What This Means for Customer Engagement

Focus Modes improve privacy and productivity by letting iOS users choose when and if they see notifications. It’s important to monitor engagement metrics like push opens to see if users are making any noticeable changes to their behaviour as Apple makes Focus Modes more accessible and appealing. Further adoption of Focus Modes may eventually result in a decline in push clicks and other engagement metrics, which could be a double-edged sword for marketers. As a negative side effect, this change may slow down the rate at which any given message is seen, diminishing the effectiveness of generic push campaigns. The flip side is that this shift may elevate the importance of push clicks and similar engagement metrics as indicators of user intent and interest.

Do you want to adapt your iOS push notification campaigns to better meet the needs of your users in light of this change?

In the push notification composer, you can now add different levels of notifications for urgency: passive (least urgent), active (medium urgency), time-sensitive (high urgency), and critical (very high urgency). This could be clever way to guarantee that users will see your messages send in accordance with their preferences, as each classification level has its own rules regarding interactions with Focus Modes (for example, passive notifications never break through Focus Mode rules, while critical notifications can).

Apple Messages Can Be Edited

What It Is: The Apple Messages app now lets you revise and resend messages, as well as mark them as unread and retrieve them if you accidentally deleted them. The Apple Messages app on iOS devices allows users to send and receive both SMS and iMessages, but the new features do not apply equally to the two types of messages. Only iMessages can be edited or unsent, but unread marks and recently deleted messages can be restored for both iMessages and SMS.

Because iMessages are the focus of this update rather than SMS, the effect on marketing teams that use SMS to communicate with mobile users is likely to be minimal. Gains from customer involvement can include These revisions could help keep your brand’s SMS messages relevant for longer. This is because iOS users will soon be able to mark a particular SMS as unread, making it simpler to keep track of messages of interest, postpone reading and responding to them, and ultimately save time.

Enhanced SMS Filter Extension Support

What It Is: As a direct response to the rising tide of SMS messages sent by brands as part of their customer engagement efforts, Apple has announced the introduction of enhanced support for the automated filtering of unknown senders. SMS messages are automatically filtered into the following categories and subcategories: Transactions (Finance, Reminders, Orders, Health, Public Services, Weather, Carrier, Rewards, Others), Promotions (Offers, Coupons, Other), and Junk, in addition to the known/unknown user filter that Apple already offered.

What This Means for Customer Engagement

Much like how Gmail’s Promotions Tab marked a shift toward the filtering of brand-related emails, this news marks a transition in how Apple handles SMS marketing messages as opposed to those from a recipient’s friends and family. However, this change is more incremental because consumers still need to take the initiative to access this functionality (by downloading a third-party filtering app, customising their settings, etc.), which is likely to limit how many of your customers take advantage of it.

Yet, Apple has a history of gradually making potentially disruptive features easier and easier for consumers to access over time, so brands shouldn’t ignore this development. To get ahead of the curve and ensure that their messages continue to be delivered to the primary SMS folder, businesses should consider using SMS Contact Cards to encourage users to save their information.

It’s early days for 1OS 16 and of course developers will find aditional ways for marketers to engage with customers throught their phones. In this article we discussed just the most notable changes recently laucned with the release of iOS last week.  

If you are looking for aditional ways through which to engage your customers or just need a review of your overall start-up marketing strategy, contact us for a free consultation. 

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