August 18, 2015
The iOS9 update from Apple scheduled for September 2015 is widely reported to contain updates for Siri, public transit directions for Maps, true tablet multitasking, and new built-in apps. Tech.Co writer Janelle McCarthy also covered Apple’s new “proactive assistance” in an article back in early August. However, one of the least talked about features with the new iOS9 update is how Apple plans to index searches for users of Siri, Spotlight, and Safari.
“Fundamentally, Apple is trying to prioritize search results that can be viewed with an app overs results that need to be viewed with a web browser. Apple is trying to improve the search experience for its users.” – Richard Forsythe, CTO NoteStream
I recently had a chance to speak with NoteStream chief technology officer and co-founder Richard Forsythe about what the iOS9 update means for mobile searches. “Fundamentally, Apple is trying to prioritize search results that can be viewed with an app over results that need to be viewed with a web browser,” Forsythe told me in an interview. He continued, “Apple is trying to improve the search experience for its users.”
Basically, this means that Apple will now offer users the opportunity to access and install an app with information they are looking for, as opposed to always returning results from the web. This is going to be a benefit for Apple as it is likely to lead to more app downloads and more in-app purchases (including advertising within apps).
For publishers, this means there could be a reduction in traffic. If there is a mobile app that Apple deems more relevant than their website, they are likely to lose out on traffic that Apple would normally send in their direction. Publishers looking to maintain their current traffic should consider having an application available in the Apple Store.
According to Forsythe, mobile developers are likely to benefit from iOS9. This is because Apple will search all available apps, not just apps installed on a user’s phone. Search results will include apps with relevant content, and allow users the option to download the app to view the results.
Forsythe believes that NoteStream provides an answer for webmasters. The app works similar to Google News in that it aggregates content and feeds it through the app. Forsythe believes that publishers will benefit as relevant content will be indexed by iOS9 and displayed through the app. Whereas content may lose traffic in mobile search, NoteStream is likely to get it indexed through the app under the new iOS9 platform.
The next few months will be interesting to watch. As mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches, Apple is disrupting the way we will see results in the foreseeable future. Time will only tell if the indexing in iOS9 will be beneficial to user experience.
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