What are App Clips on iPhone and how do they work?

Apple’s next major software update – iOS 14 – will come with a host of new features when it arrives later this year.

One of those features is App Clips. Here we are explaining everything you need to know about App Clips and how they will work.

What is an App Clip?

There is an App for pretty much everything you might want to do on your iPhone, but there are often times when you don’t have the app you need when you need it, such as a specific parking app when paying for parking. That’s where App Clips come in.

An App Clip is a small part of an app that is focused on a specific task and designed to appear as soon as you need it, like ordering a coffee or renting a scooter.

App Clips are small in size – under 10MB – launching within seconds at the bottom of your iPhone, and removing the need for you to either find the correct app on your iPhone or download it from the App Store, both of which take a lot longer than the App Clip launching will.

As the name suggests, App Clips are snippets or clips of an app that focus on the part of the app you need, like the parking payment page.

How will App Clips work?

If an App Clip is available for the app you require in the moment, you’ll be able to find them through App Clip codes, NFC tags or QR codes, scanning them with your iPhone’s camera or tapping the NFC tag. They can also be launched from Safari, Maps and Messages.

An App Clip card will appear at the bottom of your iPhone display with the option to “Open” the App Clip. The task the App Clip will complete when you tap on Open will be displayed next to the Open action button, below the name of the app.

For example, if you wanted to rent a scooter through Spin, a Spin App Clip will appear at the bottom of your iPhone when you scan the code on the scooter, with “Tap Open to unlock this scooter and ride”.

After you tap open, the option to pay with Apple Pay and agree to the terms and conditions will then appear. You won’t need to open the full app to complete the task, but there is the option to see the full app in the App Store at the top of the page if you want to download it, or view it if you already have it on your iPhone.

You’ll be able to login using Sign in with Apple for those apps you need to sign up to and make transactions instantly using Apple Pay, making everything quick, simple and secure. Once you’ve finished the task, the App Clip will disappear.

What Apps will App Clips be available for?

Whether an App Clip is available for a particular app will be dependant on its developers. The idea of previewing features of the upcoming software update months before the update arrives is to allow developers time to develop what they need to in order to take advantage of the features like App Clips. 

At the moment we don’t know which apps will use App Clips but the feature makes more sense for some apps than others, like parking apps or bike or scooter rental apps. We will update this feature when we have details of which apps will offer App Clips. 

Based on the WWDC presentation, App Clips will be available for Spin, Etsy, Drop Recipes, Park Whiz, among a few others.

When will App Clips come to my iPhone?

App Clips will arrive with iOS 14, which is due to be released later in 2020, likely around September when the next iPhones are due to be unveiled. The iOS 14 software update will be available for iPhone 6s and later. 

You can read our iOS 14 system requirements feature for more information.

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