App Clips. The solution to the “There’s an App for that” craze?


Starbucks. Love it or hate it, their app sure gets a ton of usage. I would argue that even the most infrequent Starbucks visitor likely has the app installed on their device. From the perks of ordering ahead to the points earned on every dollar spent, why wouldn’t you have it downloaded? But wait—the nearest coffee shop is a Peet’s. Better download the app and place my mobile order. Now that coffee is covered, how about ordering a pizza for lunch? Another app. The cycle continues until your home screen is a cluttered mess that could be a bonus episode on Netflix for Marie Kondo to tidy up. The solution? App Clips.

So what are App Clips anyway? App Clips are essentially mini iOS apps that are available when you need them the most. Lightweight, yet robust—App Clips take full advantage of Apple design patterns you are already familiar with. App Clips are designed to just work. Sign in with Apple and Apple Pay optimized, what is not to love? Developers love them too! They can reuse nearly all existing code and designs from existing iOS apps. From a UX standpoint—there are far more convenient than a regular App.

How to use

“Discoverable when you need them,” That’s Apple’s slogan for App Clips, and they certainly are. The most common way you’ll interact with App Clips a QR clone they call “App Clip Code,” and each one incorporates an NFC tag as well as a visual pattern recognizable via the camera.

If you’re an avid user of Apple Maps, you’ll also see App Clips when the appearance of an App Clip link is listed on a “Place Card” when you’re selecting your destination.

But how does a mini-app solve the issue of having too many apps? First, App Clips are limited to 10MB, which is 50% smaller than Youtube’s homepage. So even if your cell connection is spotty, you’ll still be able to download the App Clip. Additionally, App Clips detect if you haven’t used them in a while and automatically delete themselves.

Sadly, App Clips are currently restricted to beta testing exclusively, with an expected release by October 2020. I’m convinced App Clips are a beneficial and unique addition to Apple’s user experience, and I’m excited to see how they evolve in the next few years. See them in action

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