iOS 17 - Understanding the New Updates

November 17th, 2023

iOS 17 - Understanding the New Updates
Anh Nguyen

by Anh Nguyen

COO & Co-Founder at Gummicube, Inc

Every iOS iteration brings exciting additions that look to enhance the overall user experience. The introduction of iOS 17 promises to do the same through a plethora of updates to different parts of the iPhone’s operating system. Part of the changes include how you interact with and find apps with adjustments made to Siri and Spotlight.

With the arrival of iOS 17, Apple introduced changes to its voice assistant and discovery tool that lean into the power of spoken search and AI. For ASO, these updates make the process of finding and interacting with apps more seamless and intuitive than ever before.

iOS 17 Spotlight Updates

In the realm of app discoverability, iPhone’s Spotlight allows users to find apps without performing the traditional search within the App Store. With the new iOS 17 update, searches perform similarly, highlighting results relevant to a user’s query through a variety of media and sources. However, with iOS 17, The Top Hit section in Spotlight will now include specific actions users can perform as well, streamlining the process of reaching their destination within a specific app.

Top Hit also enjoys a slight makeover with results appearing with representative colors and icons to make it faster to identify certain apps. Any recommendations appearing as a Top Hit are displayed more prominently with the App Store’s signature light blue highlighting the suggested app. While it may not seem like a major change, applying visual cues such as colors can help aid users to the correct place in less time.

ios 17 new top hit format in highlighted blue
iOS 17 Spotlight - Top Hit Format

Siri & the Role of Voice Assistants

Several enhancements were also introduced to Apple’s voice assistant with iOS 17. Siri can now be activated by just saying “Siri” instead of “Hey Siri”, can now handle back-to-back queries, recognize the preferred app you’d like to use for specific requests, and much more.

This comes as no surprise as the use of AI-powered voice assistants has grown dramatically in recent years. According to Insider Intelligence, about 46.9% of US adults use a voice assistant, with estimates expecting the total number of U.S. users to reach 157 million by 2026. That momentum shows no sign of slowing down as companies continuously look for ways to streamline the tasks users perform on their devices.

iOS 17’s expansion of Siri’s capabilities hints at the direction Apple is looking to take its voice assistant with features that help users get more done, more efficiently. For example, the improved recognition of conversational-style queries to create App Shortcuts and perform searches highlights the company’s effort in aligning Siri’s functionality to everyday use.

This evolution in the way users interact with their smartphones, a device we’ve become increasingly reliant on, begs the question of the impact it will have on app developers and their marketing efforts. Will mobile marketing require a strategic change that prioritizes voice search? How will our approach to App Store Optimization change in order to capitalize on shifting consumer behaviors?

Voice Search for ASO & Mobile App Marketing

The way consumers search for products and services will force companies to adapt their approach to mobile marketing and voice assistants are increasingly contributing to that shift. For retail alone, over 50% of consumers use voice to research products, and almost a quarter to complete a purchase according to Narvar. This same behavior can be observed among general inquiries as well with 27% of mobile users leveraging voice for all searches.

How does this translate to app discoverability? There shouldn’t be any reason to believe that the adoption of voice search won’t affect apps are found. Knowing this, developers will want to note the potential changes in how users perform search queries for apps. A voice search tends to be more conversational in manner than a traditional text search. A user may dictate “best platforms for buying stocks”, but a typed search query could state “buy stocks online.” For reference, the key differences between spoken and written app search include the following:

text search vs voice search differences on iPhone

The focus on improvements made to Spotlight and Siri indicates the push Apple is giving to its voice assistant to align with changing user behavior. As a result, app discoverability occurs before the App Store is even opened, meaning your ASO efforts start when you’re building the app itself.

Understanding iOS 17

iOS 17's enhancements to Spotlight and Siri mark a significant milestone in the realm of app discoverability. With voice assistants playing an increasingly pivotal role, developers must adapt their strategies to align with the way users phrase their queries verbally and understand that discovery will continue to go beyond the limits of the App Store.

As we navigate this transformative landscape shaped by voice assistants and changing user behaviors, staying attuned to market preferences and technological advancements will be key. By consistently tailoring approaches, developers can not only survive but thrive in the competitive app market, ensuring their creations reach their intended audience. iOS 17 heralds a new era, where app discoverability is not just a function but an experience, enhancing user satisfaction and driving the industry towards innovative horizons before even opening the App Store.

Find out how our ASO experts can help you navigate the latest iOS 17 updates and get in touch today!

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