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How Apple's App Accelerator is helping developers create innovative iOS apps

Nidhi Singal     June 20, 2020

The nationwide lockdown post-COVID-19 outbreak witnessed an unprecedented surge in the online grocery orders in India. With consumers shopping on online grocery platforms using their bank and card details, a quick and secure sign in was the need of the hour. The 'sign in with Apple' on the Bigbasket application on iOS platform helped provide a seamless experience. "Especially during the COVID times, a quick sign-up flow helps consumer experience," says Tejas Vyas, Product Head, Bigbasket. BigBasket was already closely associated with Apple's App Accelerator for developing this feature, and the feature happened to roll out during the pandemic. Apple has been helping BigBasket in suggesting technology integrations and user experience guidelines for the Bigbasket iOS apps. "This has been in the form of enabling interactions between the bb Design/Product teams with the iOS usability experts. These insights are helpful for bb to understand key areas of improvement and make relevant additions to its iOS app roadmap," adds Vyas.

Turned three this year in March, Apple's App Accelerator in Bengaluru has been supporting Indian developers to create innovative iOS apps. The platform provides specialised support for developers, including tools and best practices to enhance their skills and transform the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform. "Apple's App Accelerator provides access to know-how, critique and mentorship around app design, performance and quality, for enterprising app developers. It supports app developers to build apps for the vast iOS ecosystem, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, among others.  With guidance from the Accelerator, app developers can adopt Apple frameworks better and swifter. More importantly, the app developers benefit from the vast ecosystem that Apple has, including the global developer community that comes together at the WWDC - Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference," says Prabhu Ram, Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CMR.

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At the App Accelerator, developers are supported at every stage of their app creation. For Lenskart, Apple's team conducted detailed UX feedback sessions where the former discussed best practices and approaches for each screen of Lenskart's iOS App. This helped in understanding the standard ways of designing and developing screens and UI elements. It has given Lenskart designers and developers a mature understanding of UX guidelines for iOS Apps and has made them more proficient.

"Apart from this, we had sessions with Apple's team on ARKit which improved our fundamental understanding of using it. We have used ARKit for building an AR experience where users' can try out eye frames and sunglasses on their faces in real-time. We have reviewed at each step with Apple's team and they have helped us improve in a lot of areas ranging from the quality of 3D models to the performance of rendering them on user's face,"  says Ramneek Khurana, Co-Founder, Lenskart. The company is also using their technology to determine face size for the user, which solves the key problem in buying eyewear online and unlocking the market for online purchase of eyeglasses.

The App Accelerator motivates developers to bring their code and get assistance for optimising app, implementing new technologies, interface, design and more, from Apple experts. Developers get to attend presentations where they garner insights on how to design and build apps that will delight Apple customers not just in India but around the world. "Apple team generously helped our team in following best practises and identifying the user experience gaps to bring in NoBroker app experience to that of global standards," says Akhil Gupta, Cofounder, NoBroker, a real estate portal without brokers.

The App Accelerator helps developers through labs and workshops to understand the ingredients needed to build inclusive apps. A lot of entrepreneurs, start-ups and even established companies can struggle with how to market their application, so in addition to design and build, the App Store team also conducts sessions helping developers understand how to best market their app locally and globally. Wysa, the health and fitness app focusing on mental health, integrated accessibility into the app using Apple's voice accessibility, integrated dark mode, and Face ID. "It was a great platform to get increased access to support in other areas like improving the visibility of app, conversions. We have also integrated Wysa into Siri (which is going through clinical review and will be released shortly). We are working now on AR Kit to create an AR version of Wysa," says Jo Aggarwal, Co-Founder, Wysa.

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A team of technology evangelists guide developers and the technologies they cover in India include general iOS frameworks and dev tools, iOS core tech, design, localisation and watchOS. For instance,  this platform helped ShareChat enable dark mode which gives users options and ultimately reduces battery consumption. The app also enabled other features such as rich notifications and reply to notifications which helped enhance the experience even more. "The team at Apple has helped with the focus of key areas to better the user experience of the ShareChat app. The Apple team helped with reviews before we launched it and that was very helpful in avoiding last-minute surprises," says Venkatesh Ramaswamy, VP of Engineering, ShareChat.

According to Apple, India has one of the most vibrant and exciting iOS developer communities, with tens of thousands of developers who have already created nearly 100,000 apps for the App Store worldwide.

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