What marketers should watch at Apple's WWDC

Developers' conferences aren't just for techies. They give marketers a peak at what's coming next.

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference takes place this week and, while fairly technical in nature, developers’ conferences can give marketers great insight into the platforms, tools, and ecosystems that will define the future of our industry.

Two weeks ago, we saw some interesting announcements at Google’s I/O developer conference, showing marketers how close virtual reality, gesture technology, connected devices, and mobile payments are to mass adoption and usage. Many in the industry expect WWDC 2015 to be even more impressive.

Here are the top three announcements in mobile and connected-device technology that marketers should watch for at the Apple WWDC:

  1. Gesture technology
    Both Apple and Google are looking for ways to incorporate more gestures as simple inputs for devices. Google announced Project Soli, a gesture radar that is small enough to fit in a wearable device so that a hand movement can act as an input. Apple is expected to announce that it will incorporate "force touch" into iOS for future iPhone devices. Force touch is a gesture that allows a user to access additional information by pressing harder – currently available on the Apple Watch and some MacBooks. These gesture technologies will affect how users interact with a marketer’s content or experience, likely opening up channels for engagement.

  2. Contextual search
    Apple has Siri; Google has Google Now. At the Google I/O conference, Google Now on Tap was unveiled, a tool that allows for contextual search within any app, available through a long tap on the home button of an Android device. This week, in the veritable Cold War of contextual search, Apple is expected to respond with a tool that will create integration and contextual search within apps, calendars, and email. Marketers can expect an entirely new channel in their SEM strategy once it’s clear how Google Now on Tap and Proactive are able to index and display search results.

  3. The Apple Watch
    While Google is standardizing software to enable various wearables, smartwatches, and connected devices, including its recently announced "conductive thread," Apple has placed its bet on the Apple Watch. Apple will likely launch the new Apple Watch toolkit, expected to make apps faster, more powerful, and native to the Apple Watch – meaning that they won’t rely on iPhone apps to work. The smartwatch and wearable channels are becoming more sophisticated and offering marketers a real opportunity to create engagements.  Marketers should be formulating early strategies and testing out marketing tactics with existing technology. 

Developer conferences like these give marketers a "peek behind the curtain" to see what the future has in-store for our industry. This year promises to be no disappointment.  

Kristine Newman is SVP of mobile at Cohn & Wolfe.

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