App Clips Development: The Complete Guide To Getting Started

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Looking to build your app clips for your iOS app? Trio is staffed with a full-time roster of highly experienced developers who specialize in developing mobile apps on iOS and have learned and experimented with app clips.

We can help take your mobile strategy to the next level by developing app clips that give potential customers new entry points to your app to increase user acquisition.

Trio goes beyond providing exceptional software development insights; we connect you with the best South American developers. Discover our elite Brazilian, Chilean, and Argentinean developers for your outsourcing needs.

What Are App Clips?

In WWDC20, Apple unveiled app clips. App clips are small parts of an app that focus on a specific task. They are meant to be discoverable at the moment a user needs them and provide an alternative entry point into your app, and ultimately your business.

We predict that app clips will change the game in regards to how businesses interact with potential users both in the real world and digitally.

Not all waves are worth catching, but this one most certainly is. Keep on reading to learn more about how app clips work and why you’ll want to implement them into your marketing strategy.

Why Use App Clips?

App clips will allow users to interact with apps on a whole new level.

You might recall a situation where you needed something at the moment but had to re-download an app and sign in just to access that information or complete a task. Not fun.

App clips address this exact use case in a remarkably simple way.

From a marketing perspective, app clips are an amazing way to acquire new users by providing them with a lightweight entry point into your app.

In the fast-paced world that we live in, this is exactly what we need. It’s amazing to think that apps, as they are today, are already a little too slow for us.

Imagine this scenario, I’m sure it’s happening to someone right now:

You’re stuck at Logan Airport in Boston, MA. The connecting flight got delayed and now you have an entire day to spend wandering around. Why not explore the city? And instead of taking an Uber everywhere, why not use a bike instead?

The only thing is you don’t have a bike-share app (yet), and you don’t know what bike-share apps are available in your city.

But then you see a bike rack with a sticker on it. You scan the sticker, you’ve just opened your first app clip and boom you’re biking around the great city of Boston.

This is the magic of app clips, taking someone from the real world into a delightful digital experience for only a moment.

It’s quick and easy, otherwise, they’d walk to the next bike rack or just opt for a taxi (seriously, we still have those).

How Do App Clips Work?

App clips can be seen as a one-two punch for user acquisition. First comes the app clip experience, then comes the app clip itself.

Graphic illustrating App Clip components, including an App icon, an App Clip Experience depiction, and an App Clip binary icon, with a WWDC20 citation.

Consider the downloading of the full app as a knockout with some prize money.

App clip experiences

Experiences are how people will discover and launch app clip. They are invoked by URLs registered in App Store Connect.

They can be seen as new entry points into your app that can exist in the real world and digitally.

That’s it! Pretty straightforward. You’ll be surprised just how simple app clip are as well.

App Clips

App clip require developers to create a second application target.

This standalone app will contain all of the code and assets necessary to handle the app clip experiences.

Furthermore, app clip still require a corresponding application, and cannot be submitted for app review independently.

Only once your app and app clip is live in the app store, they become mutually exclusive.

The app clip is downloaded if someone encounters your app clip experience.

You should make app clip as small as possible. Apple requires that app clip are less than 10mb after thinning.

This means that app clip should only contain assets that are needed at launch, and download other data only when necessary.

Process illustration for an App Clip on iOS devices, showing steps from scanning a QR code to the App Clip launch and automatic data deletion if not used, with Apple WWDC20 as the source.

Discovering App Clips

You might be wondering why go through the trouble of making an app clip? The answer lies in discovery and Apple’s vision for how users interact with businesses.

Let’s look at the various ways potential customers can interact with your app clip in the real world.

Text explaining App Clip Codes with an image of a sample code on the right and a citation of Apple WWDC20 at the bottom.

App Clips Codes

App clips codes can be seen as a branded QR code/NFC tag hybrid.

Apple’s idea behind app clip codes is that it’s a recognizable symbol that people can easily recognize and know what to expect.

Beyond that, app clip codes can be tapped on or scanned with a camera.

Businesses will be able to generate their own codes and apply them to marketing materials such as stickers, flyers, and incorporate them into their websites.

Descriptions of various methods to access App Clips on iOS devices, such as NFC tags, QR codes, Safari App Banner, links in Messages, place cards in Maps, and the App Library, cited from Apple WWDC20.

App clip entry points will also show up in other ways such as:

  • Safari App Banner
  • Links in Messages
  • Place Cards in Maps
  • Recently Used App Clip

All of these entry points increase the potential for a customer to discover your app and engage with your business.

Making A Great App Clip

Traditionally, we represent our app flow using a diagram like the one below. Starting from the left, we drill down the navigation stack in order to achieve a certain goal.

A flowchart diagram with various steps and decisions represented by connected blocks, starting from an 'A' icon, indicating a process or system flow, with a citation from Apple WWDC20 at the bottom.

With app clips, we must rethink this flow.

Only contain what provides the most value to users at the moment.

These will most likely be a feature that accomplishes something immediately in the context of your app.

For example, a restaurant might have an app clip that allows users to order contact-free.

Another example is a bike share app that allows users to unlock a nearby bike.

Multiple Experiences Using App Clips

Some apps have multiple flows and experiences and those must be addressed properly in order to keep app clip lean.

Because app clips experiences are based on URLs, you should make separate URLs for any distinct experiences that you wish to provide.

Simplified flowchart on a black background featuring an 'A' icon connected to a sequence of decision and process steps, with an Apple WWDC20 citation.

For example, if you run a restaurant chain with multiple locations then you should use a unique URL for each location.

This way, you can provide an experience that is tailored to your user based on their location.

Providing separate distinct experiences allows users to skip straight to the content they care about at the moment they need it.

In the end, what app clips aim to achieve are focused user flows that guide users to their goal.

A flowchart with multiple 'A' icons indicating different starting points, leading into a central process sequence, on a black background, noted as sourced from Apple WWDC20.

App clips aren’t one-trick ponies, so you should not think that they only do one thing.

In fact, a well-designed app clip can accomplish many things.

The major key here is that it focuses on one thing at a time.

App Clips Use Cases

There are plenty of use cases for app clip to be implemented in your app. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Ordering food
  • Online ordering
  • In-store ordering/pickup
  • Pay for parking
  • Public transit
  • Ridesharing
  • Bike-sharing
  • Vehicle renting
  • Augmented Reality demos
  • In-store coupon / marketing

What is an App Clip Developer?

An app clip developer is really just an iOS developer that has studied app clip and has had experience building app clip on a professional level. They have a strong understanding of Xcode and how to generate URLs and submit them on App Store Connect.

Hire an App Clips Developer

App clips are very new, being announced in WWDC20, so finding a developer with extensive experience in app clips development is hard. However, talented developers will have recognized the value of app clips and have started experimenting with app clip in their own personal side projects.

You can consider side projects with app clip are great portfolio pieces and also a good indicator that the developer is on top of the latest developments at Apple and actively learning.

Finding great developers is not the easiest thing to do, and is also very time-consuming. Even with all of the freelance marketplaces and job boards available, you’d think it would be easy to find your rockstar and get started. How do you go about deciding if a developer joins your team?

We have a great resource for you to check out that talks about how to hire developers

How to hire an App Clips developer?

For those who wish to take the high road and hire App Clips developers on their own, we’re still here to help.

Hiring a developer on your own is a very focused and hands-on process that requires considerable knowledge about software development in general.

The last thing you want to do is trust your hiring process to someone who isn’t technical. 

If you are a non-technical manager looking to learn a thing or two, we have a great resource here for you to learn more about the hiring process in detail.

Otherwise, we’d recommend you contact Trio for consulting and developer allocation.

What to look for in an App Clips developer?

At a high level, App Clips developers should be able to:

  • Work with Swift
  • High-level proficiency in the basic iOS frameworks
  • Proficient with SwiftUI and/or UIKit
  • Has read the app clip design guidelines
  • Has portfolio projects implementing the app clip development guides

How much do App Clips (iOS) developers cost in the U.S?

According to ZipRecruiter and other sources, the average annual pay for a Senior iOS Developer in the United States is between $73,500 and $178,800 a year.

Here’s a chart that visualizes the salary ranges within the United States for a Senior Software Developer. 

Senior iOS developer salary bar chart with national average set at 3,772.

How much do App Clips (iOS) Developers cost in South America?

Due to economic differences between the United States and South America as a whole, the cost of offshoring software development is significantly lower than hiring full-time with U.S talent. For Senior iOS Developers in South America, the average salary is currently around $100,000 whereas a mid-level developer costs around $76,000.

How much do App Clips (iOS) Developers cost in Ukraine / Eastern Europe?

Eastern Europe shares very similar rates to South America, again due to the economic differences. When looking at salaries in Eastern Europe, data shows that a Senior iOS Developer costs around $100,000 on average.

Hourly rates for App Clips (iOS) Developers

Another way to look at developer costs is through hourly rates. While salaries are good to understand for hiring developers for full-time and long-term, you might just need a developer for a period of 3-6 months or 6-12 months. In these types of situations, it’s best to calculate your costs based on the hourly rates of a developer.

Below is a table that lists the various hourly rates of developers in different locations based on their job title.

Software developer hourly rates with Latin American rates being second cheapest after Asia.

Why Hire an App Clips (iOS) developer

Trio App Clips (iOS) developers are pre-vettedinterviewed, and then trained further to become true software professionals, capable of adapting to situations that are both within and outside of the scope of their general expertise.

At Trio, we hold our developers to a higher standard. Much like how elite special forces units recruit only the best from main branches of the military, we recruit developers who either show amazing potential or demonstrate exceptional skill. We then take their talents and sharpen them even further.

Another benefit of hiring a Trio developer is that you won’t incur the costs of hiring, which can add up to be around 30% of a developer’s salary on average, as well as overhead costs associated with full-time employment.

By working with Trio, you can enjoy a highly experienced full-time developer for a fraction of the cost, along with the added project management assistance.

To learn more, hit us up and tell us about your project so that we can get you started.

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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