Android has a feature called Slices that allows interactive parts of a third-party app to appear in Google Search and Google Assistant. This helps Android users to get tasks done quicker by giving them access to parts of an app that they have not installed. According to 9to5Mac, Apple is working on a similar feature for iOS 14. An early build of the latter includes a feature allowing an iPhone user to scan a QR code in order to interact with part of a third-party app that he/she has yet to install.
The Clips API will allow users to scan a QR code and use part of a third-party app even if it was never installed by the user
Today, tapping a link or scanning a QR code from an app you haven't installed on your iPhone will open the link in Safari. But the aforementioned early build of iOS 14 shows that a new API called "Clips" inside Apple will allow a developer to offer an interactive part from his app to a user even if he or she has yet to install this app. For example, scanning a QR code that is linked to an app on iOS will bring up a card with an interactive and dynamic part of the app that the user can manipulate.
For example, let's say you receive a QR code that links to a Randy Rainbow video on YouTube, but you don't have the YouTube app installed on your iPhone. Scanning the code will call up a floating card with a native interface instead of a webpage, and allow the iPhone user to stream the video. The floating card will give the user options to install the full app (in this example, YouTube) from the App Store or play the content using the app if it has already been installed.
An API (Application Programming Interface) allows two applications to communicate with each other. A good example of what an API is and what it does can be seen with one of those apps that helps you find the best price for a specific flight you're looking to book. So let's say you want the lowest price for a flight between New York City and Kalamazoo, Michigan and you're using a flight aggregator app called Staying Aloft. The information that you plug into the latter's app such as the cities you are traveling between, the date and preferred time of travel, and any other variables, are sent to each airline's server through their API and the response is sent back from each API to the aggregator who shows it to the user.
The iOS 14 code discovered by 9to5Mac reveals that Apple is testing "Clips" with third-party apps like OpenTable, Yelp, DoorDash, Sony's PS4 Second Screen app, and YouTube. It is believed that Apple is planning on using these apps to demonstrate "Clips" during the online WWDC Developers Conference expected to be held in June. As we've already told you, Apple has decided to hold this year's event online in order to prevent attendees from catching the coronavirus.
Apple will introduce iOS 14 during WWDC and could disseminate the new build of its mobile operating system sometime this September. If the Clips API is introduced, it will finally give iOS users a reason to have a QR code reader installed, but more importantly, it will bring information to the fingertips of iPhone users without forcing them to install a particular app.
We should point out that Apple has yet to announce an official date for the online WWDC Developers Conference. Besides introducing the Clips API, Apple is also expected to unveil a couple of new products including the AirTag item tracker.