App Clips are small shortcuts or a part of your app that you can use when you need to quickly access and experience what your app has to offer. As they work fast and are lightweight you can open them quickly. Even if you are ordering something to eat, renting a cab or setting any connected appliance for the first time, or want to preview a game, App Clips will be able to start and finish an experience from your app in seconds. Once down you can get the opportunity to download your full app from the App Store if you want. This means you don’t need to download the entire app but get instant app like functionality on your iPhone with App Clips.
Introduced with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, App Clips allow you to run an application without having to download it from the App Store first.
Because an App Clip is a small part of your app, it’s developed in the same Xcode project as your full app using the iOS SDK. Also because it’s small, an App Clip is fast to open even when it’s not already on the device. When you’re ready to submit for review, you’ll manage it as part of your full app in App Store Connect. If you like the look of an app, or you want to use it again, you also have the option of downloading it to your device permanently.
Finding App Clips
Many websites offer counterpart iPhone apps that are advertised at the top of the screen whenever you visit that website from your smartphone. If an app supports App Clips, you’ll see an option to “Open” the App Clip at the top.
App Clips are visually beautiful and distinct, so when someone sees one, they’ll know there’s an App Clip waiting for them. Each App Clip Code encodes a URL and can incorporate an NFC tag, so the code can be tapped on or scanned by the camera. Direct links to App Clips are also available. Some apps, like Messages, have integrated a full description of clips in the preview.
App Clips can also be found at parking meters and fuel pumps. Apple has launched its own App Clip codes you can scan with your iPhone’s camera. There’s also support for Quick Response (QR) codes (also scanned by the camera) and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags. The latter work when your iPhone comes within close proximity to them.
- NFC Tags: You can tap your iPhone on NFC tags that you see them at specific locations to launch an App Clip, even from the lock screen.
- QR Codes: You will find QR codes at specific locations to let launch an App Clip by scanning the code with the Barcode reader or the Camera app.
- Safari App Banner: In any Webpage that is configured with a Smart App Banner for App Clips, you can just tap to open it from there.
- Links in Messages: When you enable sharing within your App Clip, users can send it via iMessage, and the person who receives it can open it right from Messages.
- Place Cards in Maps: If App Clip is associated with a specific location like in maps you can open it from there.
- Recently Used App Clips: App Clips don’t clutter the Home Screen, but recently used App Clips can be found and launched from the Recents category of the new App Library. Scroll to the bottom to see any currently available App Clips. According to Apple, these are removed automatically after a period of inactivity, but how long that is hasn’t been specified. It’s impossible to delete App Clips manually from this list like you would a standard app. After you download the full version of an app, though, it’s that version, not the App Clip, that will launch. This is true even if you scan an App Clip or QR code, or tap an NFC tag.
When you trigger an App Clip, an overlay appears at the bottom of the screen. It’s similar to what appears when you install an app from the App Store. Tap “Open” and the app will fetch any necessary data. This process can happen instantly or take about 30 seconds, depending on the app and your connection.
App Clips can be especially useful because functions like Apple Pay are fully supported. This allows you to launch an App Clip, make a purchase, and then carry on with your day. Without App Clips, you have to launch the App Store, search for the app, authenticate to install it, launch it, and then possibly still have to sign up.
When you simply need to pay for parking or rent a bicycle, this is inconvenient. With App Clips, the whole process is streamlined thanks to the multiple ways you can access them, both via the web and in the real world.
Some apps provide multiple experiences and App Clips can be configured to support each of them in a special way. For example, a restaurant app may support multiple restaurants. App Clips make it possible to create a unique experience for each restaurant through a single App Clip.
App Clips Work with Apple Pay
App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly. An ideal App Clip experience allows users to open and complete a task in seconds. Also make payments using Apple Pay App Clips can use Sign in with Apple to sign in to apps services without requiring to fill out forms or set up new accounts.
So with the App Clip open, you can do whatever you need to do, whether it’s paying for goods via Apple Pay or testing out a game before you buy it. Any apps that require a login can do so via Apple for instant, anonymous access.
Some App Clips also include a link where you can download the full version of an app, but others don’t. Some will prompt you to download the full version when you hit the limits of the App Clip, such as finishing a level of a game.