Watch This for iMessage
At WWDC this June, Apple announced the new Messages Framework that allows developers to build a new type of iOS app experience. At ustwo, the desire to get hands-on experience with new platforms and technologies is all but engrained in our DNA, and when we combine that with our studio’s interest in the future of TV, we ended up with Watch This: An app designed and developed exclusively for iMessage, centered on the idea of sending your friends media-rich recommendations for shows and movies they should watch.
Inspiration: The Future of TV
As part of our work from earlier in the year look at The Future of TV, we carried out extensive researching into how people share content recommendations with their friends, including how they themselves like to be recommended content under different contexts.
In our research, we found that although people see value in content recommendations directly from services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, they more so valued recommendations from peer groups. In addition to this, whilst they saw social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as a key source, the most influential and relevant recommendations came from closed social groups, with those conversations likely to happen via one-to-one or group conversations in messaging apps.
As our friends and family are strong influencers in that shows we watch, we decided to explore how an iMessage app can support this experience. Three weeks later, Watch This was born.
Data in iMessage: More Accessible & Beautiful Than Ever
A media-rich experience, users start by opening the Watch This app from inside their iMessage app store. From there, they can either choose their recommendation from a pre-established “most popular” list, or search through a database of over 370,000 shows and movies available to watch across dozens of content providers. Add an optional, customizable message, and send away.
On the other end, friends and family receive your recommendation, complete with the beautiful cover art and backdrop imagery associated with the show. Tapping on the message will reveal extra information about the show, including options to launch relevant content apps to start watching immediately.
A New Era for App Designers & Developers
One of our biggest takeaways from our weeks of experimenting with Apple’s new iMessage Framework is the unique and interesting opportunities it will offer app designers & developers.
In our blog post, we dive deeper into what we discovered with this new platform, iMessage app design best practices and development tips & advice. Since they have the ability to stand on their own, without the need of a companion app, iMessage apps are entering us into a new, more intimate era of mobile user experience independent of the traditional App Store.
Conversely, those who design and develop iMessage Apps as companions to their originals are offered a new avenue of potential viral discovery: If a user discovers your iMessage App, iOS 10 displays a shortcut to the install the fully-fledged parent application that they otherwise would not have known about.
While iMessage puts constraints on what you can do with their templates, there is still plenty of room to get creative with the new Frameworks, and we firmly believe that is the key to ensuring you stand out from the mundane, helping achieve the goal of virality mentioned above. Learn more about our design and development recommendations for iMessage Apps in our blog post.
Watch This is Available Now Worldwide
Download Watch This on the App Store, and start sending media-rich TV and movie recommendations to your friends and family today.