If historical patterns hold, the release of iOS 15 is probably coming mid-September. So let's start with a few articles that recap the top ways iOS 15 will affect mobile growth.
If you want to get an update live, join one of the iOS 15 webinars Branch has scheduled for next week! We'll be covering the topics below and more, and we have sessions in convenient timezones around the globe: NA, EMEA, APAC.
An Innovative Solution to the Deferred Deep Linking Challenges Caused by Private Relay in iOS 15
For mobile marketers and developers, one of the more significant challenges coming in iOS 15 is iCloud+ Private Relay.
While Apple decided last week to turn the initial version of Private Relay into a public beta, it will still cause some fairly notable changes to deferred deep linking and web-to-app attribution.
Our team at Branch has been busy developing privacy-centric, on-device functionality for iOS 15, and this blog post describes how the new NativeLink™ solution works (…and why it might actually be even better than what existed before!)
iOS 15 SKAdNetwork postbacks: the good, the bad, and the ugly
Another major iOS 15 topic is the introduction of direct SKAdNetwork postbacks to advertisers. This addresses one of the most common requests for SKAN improvements, and will enhance transparency…but there are some interesting issues to work through around data deduplication and analysis.
All MMPs are building support for the new direct postbacks, and this piece from Singular gets into some of the details of what that means behind the scenes.
Apple’s custom product pages: Boost your ROX
WWDC 2021 brought some exciting new updates to iOS App Store product pages, including both A/B testing and fully custom page variants.
This overview from AppsFlyer has great examples of how the new custom pages can help create end-to-end, fully contextualized user journeys (and note that while AppsFlyer's OneLink product is featured quite heavily in the article, these techniques will work perfectly with any link).
QR Codes Are Here to Stay. So Is the Tracking They Allow.
Half of all full-service restaurant operators in the United States have added QR code menus since the start of the pandemic,
Fueled by a desire for touchless transactions, QR codes popped up everywhere in the pandemic. For anyone involved in mobile marketing, this means new ways to deliver delightful experiences to customers, and a new source of insight into campaign performance.
…and for privacy advocates, this also means new concerns about exposure to unwanted tracking.
As the headline suggests, QR codes almost certainly here to stay. And while I feel this article somewhat over-indexes on the scare factor of 'QR code tracking', there are some valuable questions to consider around what meets users' expectations.
Excerpt: How Google bought Android—according to folks in the room
Ever wonder where Android came from, before it belonged to Google?
This excerpt from Androids: The team that built the Android operating system recounts exactly how Google came to acquire what is now the most popular mobile OS in the world, long before it had mainstream adoption.
Apple tweaks app pay rules in $100m settlement
A big piece of news last week was how Apple apparently agreed to 'major changes' in a lawsuit settlement with app developers over App Store fees.
Except that's not really what happened. I saw at least a dozen different on this story from across the media spectrum, and they all seem to suffer from some sort of groupthink on the impact.
The reality is nowhere near as meaningful as the headlines make it sound: this agreement doesn't mean developers can point users to alternative payment methods from within the app. In fact, Apple didn't make any policy changes at all — they simply 'clarified' that if a developer collects something like a user email address inside the app, they can use it to communicate about other payment methods outside of the app (which was previously prevented by App Store policy, albeit with no real enforcement).
App Store Payments Will Have Increased Competition
The above take on Apple's developer settlement notwithstanding, here is a very well articulated counterargument on why out-of-app payments will almost certainly be implemented to great success by some types of casual games.
How TikTok's Algorithm Figures Out Your Deepest Desires
TikTok's optimization algorithm is one of the wonders of the modern tech universe. I've linked to articles in the past that dig into its mechanics, but this WSJ video is the most in-depth analysis project I've seen to date (the authors actually created dozens of 'automated accounts' to study how the system categorizes the interests of viewers).
The challenges around filter bubbles and echo chambers are hardly unique to TikTok, and it's good to remember that your average end user has no idea how powerful a well-tuned ML model can be — the video correctly explains that it's simply not necessary to listen to a microphone or read text messages in order to understand what a user finds appealing.
Privacy & Security
Android Developers Blog: Preparing for Google Play’s new safety section
App 'privacy nutrition labels' are coming to the Play Store next spring, and Google recently released some previews of what they might look like.
Personally, I'm a fan — I think Google's presentation here has the potential to avoid much of the confusion that still plagues Apple's version.
Inside the Industry That Unmasks People at Scale
Reminder: there’s an entire industry built around linking anonymous device IDs (IDFAs, GAIDs) to the PII of real people.
This is the real 'big bad' neutralized by policies like AppTrackingTransparency…responsible marketing attribution is just bycatch.
Do you have a mobile growth role you’d like to share with the community?
Just fill out this form — it’s free!
- Wealthsimple | Design Manager, Product Growth — Toronto or remote
- TikTok | Growth Marketing Manager — Los Angeles, CA
- TikTok | Growth Strategy Manager — Los Angeles, CA
- TikTok | Growth Marketing Lead — Los Angeles, CA
- TikTok | Senior Data Scientist - User Growth — Los Angeles, CA
We're coming to the end of the summer (hopefully everyone has been enjoying well-earned vacations, despite all the COVID challenges), and I'll be getting this newsletter back to a more regular bi-weekly cadence soon.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a few of the best longer reads I've come across over the last few weeks. Hope you enjoy!Alex Bauer