Apps and the Pub Experience

Task: How to get a drink in 2020

So I finally got myself to a pub. Lets me honest after these last few month I needed a pint. Just like everyone we are getting used to the new normal. One of these new normals is how to order a Pint when you’re in the pub garden.

Let me explain, as I’m sure you know. Generally you get up, walk to the bar, wait a few minutes and then ask for your drink of choice and then pay with a debit/credit card or even with cash. Its a universal experience that hasn’t changed a for a while. Some pubs a restaurants and large tech organisation in the last decade have explored the idea of ordering from an iPad or even a Surface Table back in 2011 where objects can change the interface they are placed on. The most successful and wide roll out of these types of order systems has been McDonalds with their touch screen POS ordering systems found in their restaurants.

Although widely found in a lot of McDonalds of the world, they were designed in a pre-Covid world. For example where touching as public screen didn’t come with the added thought of will I get sick from this action. So since society has changed so must tech with a new answer of how to use your own device to order if I can’t go to bar ir touch a public POS device.

All of this lead to me want to better understand “App Clips“. Not to be confused with the Clips App made by Apple. Even up to this point I didn’t see the value and was much more focused on the iOS14 Widgets. When I saw it being introduced at WWDC I just didn’t see why we needed them.

All of that changed when I sat down tried to use a pub mobile website app to get a drink. Theres nothing worse than a website getting in between you and your pint. So let’s take a look at how this idea has evolved over the years

A little background to this idea.

Listening to App Clips being introduced my first thought to myself was that. “I feel like I’ve seen this before.” and I really had to try and remember where I’d seem this idea because but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a success. After a little searching I found it. It reminded me mainly of Android App Instant. Not that I’ve ever seen anyone ever use this function. Ive never even recommended to have it as part of the app I’ve designed. They also reminded me kind of the new iOS14 Widgets. The main difference being is that widgets can’t take input data whilst Clips can. Wigets are ways in when you’ve downloaded the app. Which gives them very different use-cases and opportunity to get new users using your app. So now in iOS there is it is a spectrum of ways to enter. Basically Apple has taken the idea and improved it. Let’s start with how we got here.

Android PlayStore Instant

App Instant were launched at Google I/O 2016 as away to access an app without the need to download. Google introduced the concept of Google Play Instant for the first time and since then they have been talking about it at their I/O events.

With Android Instant, users can tap on a button in the Play Store, Google Play Games app, or a website banner to use an app or game without installing it first. The video below show an example of these discovery surfaces. When Google Play receives one of these requests for an instant app or game, it sends the necessary files to the Android device that sent the request. The device then runs the app or game. Instant experiences fall into two categories: “Try” experiences in the Play Store and “Instant play” games in the Google Play Games app.

Just for the moment, step out of this whole situation ponder upon the thought of what can we achieve with the apps that do not require downloading them? Let me walk you through, imagine you need to pay at a parking meter, till now you will have to keep an app that allows you to pay at parking meter. But not anymore, with Google Play Instant, NFC enabled parking meter launches a small app after touching the app on the NFC sensor. This tiny little app lets you pay for your parking bills, and voila! The app is gone after the transaction. It won’t eat up the phone’s space and it won’t require you to wait for downloading the app

The apps with Google Play Instant are fast, fluid, and deliver a nice experience when used. And there are some obvious drawbacks when it comes to these three qualities for web apps.

Apple App Clips

App clips are an opportunity to quickly demonstrate the value of your app. To make it easier for users to get your full app, you can present an option for download at an appropriate time in your app clip. You can even persist any information the user has provided and seamlessly transition it to the full app.

Simple and multiple ways into the an App in iOS14.

Users can tap their iPhone on NFC tags that you place at specific locations to launch an app clip, even from the lock screen. Place QR codes at specific locations to let users launch an app clip by scanning the code with the Barcode reader or the Camera app. When your webpage is configured with a Smart App Banner for app clips, users can just tap to open it from there. When you enable sharing within your app clip, users can send it via iMessage, and the person who receives it can open it right from Messages. When your app clip is associated with a specific location, you can register your app clip to appear on a place card in Maps so users can open it from there. App clips don’t clutter the Home Screen, but recently used apps clips can be found and launched from the Recents category of the new App Library.

App clips in real life

So the questions still stands – “How do I get my drink” or really “How do AppClips help in life?”. On a side note, the more I talk with friends and co workers about App Clips the more I think this solution might have a role to lowering the barrier to entry to get people using the app. By expanding the points at which you can download the app the more feel that websites and apps are blurring, isn’t this just an Applet but for 2020.

Talking with a friend about this Hotel project who wanted to invest into an app, who opinion was that people don’t download apps, it instantly struck me that this is exactly an opportunity where AppClips could help. So I thought I’d find a random hotel brand I mock up a few screens to see how it could work for users in different scenarios. Let’s take a look below at just one of the scenarios. There are in total about 6 different ways to access an AppClip but lets start with SMS.

Here a UX designer could design different clips based on how an AppClip is being accessed and the context can different, SMS NFC, location etc for example. This radically opened up the opportunities for apps and why we use them.

SMS Route to open an App Clip with option to fully download and open the full app.

In this example a user has been introduced to the hotels services (and so the app) via an SMS. They got their phone number from the hotel backend system which they provided when booking. Here, we are using the AppClip to introduce the hotel services such as Room service or Hotel restaurant information – and this is where the AppClip helps. Payments could make via ApplePay directly in the AppClip. We can set a life time of the AppClip which can auto delete itself when the users finishes their stay with hotel.

Advantage would be keeps the phone clean and not cluttered, if the user wants to download the full when that App will stay on the phone after the users stay. An AppClip can have multiple AppClips depending on different new-user flows. This example is aimed new users who have just arrived to their hotel room.

As I continue to learn about iOS14’s news range of features I’ll be integrating this thinking into my future projects but for now its good to understand how it works. Let’s see if it becomes a thing or not.