Apple is apparently working on a way for iPhone users to use the features of apps without having to install them in its next iteration of iOS. In theory, you would be able to scan a QR code that allows you temporary access to the app — say for watching a video or looking at a social media post.
The feature was spotted by 9to5Mac, who found it in code within an early iOS 14 build. The new API is codenamed “Clips,” which confuses me only slightly because Apple had a video-editing app by that same name a few years ago. One would use Clips (the feature) by scanning a QR code. Doing so would open a card that would allow you to use some of the interactive features of the app in question. 9to5 used the example of a YouTube video — scanning a Clips QR code would open the video within the card if you don’t have the app installed.
Android has a similar feature called “Slices,” so if this pans out, then add it to the list of “things iOS is finally catching up to Android on.” Still, if they do eventually roll it out, it could be a way for developers to offer a “preview” of their app without requiring the user to install it. They would have to specify which parts of the app would be usable within the Clip, which would link to the App Store page for the full version. The report also implies the feature will also work if the app is installed, as the card could link to the installed app.
At the moment, there’s really no recourse if you just want to check an app out or want to use it temporarily without disrupting your phone‘s carefully arranged app layout (immaculately alphabetized, thanks very much). Given that we all basically live within apps now, this could change the way we interact with them.
Apple is currently testing the feature with YouTube, Yelp, DoorDash, OpenTable, and Sony’s PS4 Second Screen apps. Given that at least three of those apps are in a folder on my iPhone marked “Barely Used,” I’d definitely be willing to try Clips if it meant I didn’t have to have them on my phone full-time.
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