Ultimate Guide to Apple’s Live Activities For Brands 2023

Apple introduced “Dynamic Island” in the pro version of its iPhone 14 series last year. This combined with the release of the iOS 16.1 update enables businesses to build improved customer experiences through the “Live Activities” feature. This insight explores how retailers can use the new feature to improve engagement, generate new revenue streams, and manage service disruptions.

Table of Contents

Introduction – What Is Dynamic Island?

Unlike the iPhone 14 and its Plus variant, the new iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models has a smaller cutout (“notch”) to host various sensors and the TrueDepth camera. This new pill shape cutout is 20% smaller and opens up new ways for the phone to interact and engage customers with the hardware and software components. These include new alerts, notifications and activities that can be updated live by various mobile applications using the appropriate application programming interface(API).

Apple’s New Dynamic Island

Per Apple, “With the introduction of the Dynamic Island, the TrueDepth camera has been redesigned to take up less of the display area. Without impeding content on the screen, the Dynamic Island maintains an active state to allow customers easier access to controls with a simple tap-and-hold. Ongoing background activities like Maps, Music, or a timer remain visible and interactive, and third-party apps in iOS 16 that provide information like sports scores and ride-sharing with Live Activities can take advantage of the Dynamic Island.” 

In Depth – Live Activities

The Live Activities feature was unveiled as part of the iPhone keynote in September 2022 and was pushed to customers on October 24, 2022 worldwide with the release of iOS 16.1. It is one of the differentiated feature for iPhone customers over others on competing mobile platforms.

Additionally, iOS 16.2 released on December 13, 2022 includes the additional ability for customers to adjust the frequency of Live Activities updates from different applications. This increases real-time update frequencies but may have a negative impact to battery usage.  

iOS 16 is available to these iPhone models:

iPhone 8, 8 Plus

iPhone SE (2nd and 3rd generation)

iPhone X, XR, XS, XS Max

iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max

iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max

iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max

iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, 14 Pro Max

How To Enable Live Activities

All iPhone customers can enable Live Activities for the Lock Screen by following these four simple steps:

Launch the Settings application

Scroll down and tap Face ID & Passcode.

Enter your passcode to continue.

Scroll down and under “Allow Access When Locked,” toggle the switch next to Live Activities to the green ON position.

How To Enable Live Activities And Application Support

On release, more than 30 mobile applications supported Live Activities at launch. They are mostly designed to improve personal productivity and information collection.

Bolt – Workout & Gym Planner:  View and manage your rest timer.

Booby Track: Keep track of your active breastfeeding timer.

Carrot Weather: Track approaching storms. 

Coachy: AR Calisthenics & HIIT: Track your workout.

Coffee Book: Track timers and skip steps in brewing guides.

Crouton: Cooking Companion: View timers and recipe steps.

Dark Noise: Start and stop sounds.

Fat Burn Tracker: View and manage workouts.

FITIV Pulse Heart Rate Monitor: Track workouts.

Flighty – Fast Flight Tracker: Track flights.

Focus – Time Management: See your Focus Session.

Forest: Focus for Productivity: Track your focus stats in real-time.

Grocery – Smart Shopping List: Track shopping sessions and cooking timers.

GoodTask – To Do List, Tasks: See upcoming tasks while in Focus.

Landscape: Mountaineering: Track real-time stats including a rolling elevation graph.

Liftin’ Workout Tracker: See your active workout.

Lock Launcher: Launch apps from the Lock screen.

LookUp: English dictionary: Access recently searched words and functions such as search and scan.

Lumy: Keep track of any sun event.

Mango Baby – Newborn Tracker: See your logs that have running timers.

MD Clock – Clock Widget: See timers.

MoneyCoach Budget & Spendings: Track how much you’ve spent in a specific category.

OffScreen – Less Screen Time: See your Focus progress.

OneWidget – Lock Screen Widget: Adopt a pet, show health data, show app launchers, or show quotes.

Paddle Logger for Watersports: Check the status of your paddle.

Passcodes – Password Manager: See 2FA authentication codes.

Pestle: Recipe Organizer: Keep track of timers and activities.

Reality Tasks: Kanban & To-Do: Track your next task.

Slopes: Ski & Snowboard: Track your stats in real-time.

Soor: Get Now Playing insights.

Sports Alerts: Set scores up to six hours prior to game time.

Structured – Daily Planner: See countdown timers.

Sticky Timers and Countdowns: Keep track of multiple timers.

Time’s Up! – Visual Timer: Track and manage timers.

Business Use Case Example – Uber

Initially, technology reviewers and users were hesitant on the new feature and labelled it gimmicky. Their perspective changed as many found over a period of usage that the new feature allow them to engage the lock screen with better efficiencies and reduce the workflow on getting information.

In action: In this example, the iPhone user gets a notification that their delivery will arrive in 8 minutes. When the notification is opened, the user is provided with an actionable step to contact the delivery company.

On February 23, 2023, Uber updated to version 3.5550.10000 that improves the interactions between vehicle drivers and passengers. Previous to the update, passengers can only check a vehicle’s status or arrival time by unlocking their phone and use the application directly.

With this update, passengers receive relevant information directly on their lock screen. This reduces the chances of them fumbling with phone after a night out or dropping the phone while managing baggages after a flight arrival.

In action: Uber’s take on Live Activities is a window that includes the live progress of a ride with the latest estimated time of arrival and the trip information including driver’s status and ride completation. It will also show the vehicle type and the license plate number of the ride. The ride sharing company will also implement the same feature for its Uber Eats product this year.

Business Use Cases

In the Uber use case, passengers are able to receive personalized arrival information in a timely fashion. This can be extended to retailers brainstorming ways to reduce frictions in engaging, acquiring, onboarding and maintaining customers.

Here are five examples:

Updates on goods and services purchased but not delivered – Instead of an email, customers can receive a notification on a timely basis with their purchase status. If the delivery is delayed or canceled, customers can be given the option to obtain a refund directly through the notification, contact a representative, or exchange for an alternative (Engage/Maintain)

Product registration – Once a customer registered a product, a notification can pop up confirming the registration and warranty information. Brands can include additional actions in the notification to take customers directly to the user manual or self-help videos (Onboarding)

Feedback/check-in – After a customer receives the product or service, the brand can send a notification to seek feedback on a timely basis (e.g., more immediately for quick-consumed products/services vs a longer time frame for products requiring more hands-on experience). Additional actions can be designed to thank the customer for their feedback, address high praises or low scores, or troubleshoot (Engage/Maintain)

Product/service alerts – Brands can send a notification to customers to alert them on product recalls (Engage/Maintain) as well as sales opportunities on previously searched products (Acquire).

Upselling – Brands can notify customers of the opportunities to experience a better product or service when they become available. For example, an airline can notify eligible passengers that upgrades are available for sale as they wait for their flights. This could be extended to the entire passenger journey based on preferences stored in the profile. The goal is to consistently engage with relevant information without overburdening them.

Final Words

Apple’s new Live Activities feature provides a new method for retail brands to engage, acquire, onboard, and manage customer expectations, needs, and wants more efficiently and effectively. The feature also creates new opportunities for brands to generate new revenue with personalized and timely engagement and upselling actions within the lock screen notification.

Find out more about the Activity Kit here: https://developer.apple.com/documentation/activitykit

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