Will the iPhone 7 Continue to Attract Users and their Attention?

Yesterday, after months of speculation, Apple officially introduced the new iPhone 7. So what’s new about the latest model, and how do we expect the iPhone 7 to change the mobile landscape? More importantly, what does Verto Analytics data tell us about the evolution of usage across each new iPhone model to date?

We expected to see a few notable new features with the latest iPhone. First, based on yesterday’s announcement, there is definitely evidence that the iPhone 7 is intended to increase user engagement, driving more people to use Apple’s core services.

Apple has already been actively promoting Siri, announcing the debut of the voice-guided personal assistant to the desktop OS this past June. Combined with minor improvements to Apple Music over the past year, and the removal of the headphone jack in favor of wireless headphone standard that works across all iCloud-synced devices, Apple certainly seems intent on making these services more ubiquitous. A speedier CPU and improvements to the camera will certainly make some users happier – but they’re not completely radical innovations.

Is a Bigger Screen Also More Engaging?

How has Apple’s iPhone affected the active usage time with the device? Looking at Verto Analytics’ data on user engagement with Apple devices, it is notable that each new iPhone model or iteration has resulted in increased usage time. In fact, the iPhone 6 increased daily time spent with the device (any usage counted) by 80%, compared with engagement levels seen with the iPhone 5.

So why is user engagement, as measured by the average time users spend on the device going up with each new release of the iPhone? There are several possible factors at work:

  1. The bigger the screen, the more often users use their device.
  2. Better usability leads people to spend more time with services and features.
  3. New apps and services increase the potential scope of use cases.
  4. Better integration and interoperability between apps and services leads people to use the device for a longer period of  time.
  5. Lowered barriers to entry for interacting with the device (e.g. the introduction of the TouchID fingerprint recognition for unlocking the device and making purchases) encourages more frequent device use.

Obviously, with each new iPhone model release, Apple has been iterating on all of these factors. Now we will see if the iPhone 7, with its new apps and services and newly integrated wireless headset, are able to further increase user engagement with the device. We expect to see positive growth for user engagement – if those numbers falter, it could herald an early warning sign for Apple’s future prospects.

Siri, How Engaging Are You?

Voice-guided assistant apps are leading the whole debate about engagement metrics in a new direction. The industry has always been keen to measure time spent on device screens, and Verto is one of the first companies to measure engagement across all device types and models, as well as across websites and apps, in a comparable way. However, as the world’s biggest mobile device makers— Apple and Samsung—increasingly promote voice-activated interaction with their devices in addition to on-screen interactions, we should reconsider whether these metrics are outdated. Instead, should we be talking about active time with the device, regardless of the type of interactions (voice, touch, eye-contact)? Does this warrant a complete reinvention of engagement metrics as a whole?

According to Verto App Watch data, which tracks U.S. adults (18+), voice-guided assistant apps are slowly gaining in popularity:

  • In an average month, 36% of the online adult population in the U.S. use a voice-guided assistant application.
  • Siri has the greatest overall reach at 25%, followed by S Voice (Samsung) at 12%. All other apps garnered less than 1% reach.
  • Voice-guided assistant apps are more popular on smartphones than tablets—in an average month, nearly 50% of iOS and Android smartphone users accessed a mobile voice-guided assistant app versus about 25% of iOS and Android tablet users.
  • Average users accessed a mobile voice-guided assistant app about 5 to 6 days in a month, for about one to two sessions over the course of the day; this is consistent across iOS and Android devices.
  • Sessions with Siri tend to last longer, about 3 minutes, than on Samsung S Voice, which last less than a minute on average.

What’s in Store for the iPhone 8? Or 9?

Looking beyond yesterday’s big announcement, what is still to come from a company famous for completely redefining the user experience on its devices?  We are expecting Apple to bring some significant new designs into its next batch of iPhones, to be released next year. Many other vendors are already experimenting with curved screens, and screens that fold over the front screen (as seen on Samsung’s S7 Edge devices). We predict that Apple will bring them to the market next year. We also expect Apple to make an aggressive push into  augmented reality and virtual reality. As a result, we’ll see better integration with attachable devices, new screens, and an increased number of  sensors in future iPhones. We anticipate a greater and nearly seamless integration between the digital and physical worlds. Mobile payments, authentication via Apple devices, and better support for augmented reality concepts, are all on our prediction lists for Apple devices in 2017.

For the time being, we’ll be watching initial iPhone 7 sales numbers, and observing how the new iPhone influences consumer behavior.

Interested in our device use and engagement metrics? Contact us to learn more.