Friday, September 21, 2012

Smart App Banners in iOS 6

Often, when browsing the web on my iPhone or iPad, I'll get a full-screen banner suggesting that I get the iOS application that corresponds to this website. Because these notifications are full-screen, they prevent me from reading whatever it is I'm trying to read, and tend to fall into one of three categories:

  • Help Me Install an App I Already Have: I already have the app, but for some reason I'm not using it -- possibly I've come here from a web search. The custom notification will often only send me to the app store for an app that I already have, meanwhile prevent me from accessing the content I wanted to access.
  • Help Me Install an App I Don't Want: This is often true for things like forum systems. I just want to read something someone wrote somewhere on the web, I don't want to install yet another app for your particular website -- that's why I'm using the web.
  • You Have an App? Occasionally, they're actually telling me about an app that I don't have and would actually like to have. In this scenario, I may be willing to download the app right away, or I may want to do it later. Unfortunately, even if I follow the link to download your app, I might then still want to read whatever I came here to read, and if I go back to the link that brought me to your site, I might immediately fall into the first category again, where you tell me about the app I already have instead of showing me what I actually wanted to see.

This last option is the only one where the full-screen banner is actually useful, and even then it might be something I prefer to do another time.

Fortunately, iOS 6 has a new feature, smart app banners, that are less intrusive and more useful, not to mention very easy to implement. Using these, you can redirect from the web to an application without a custom full-screen banner.

Looks great -- I hope websites start using this path instead of building their own full-screen banners. And if you're looking for someone to help you implement smart app banners, get in touch.

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