October 30, 2020

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Apple’s New “App Clips” Feature in iOS 14 Cleverly Used to Deliver a Frictionless Demo of ‘Phoenix 2′ Shoot ’em Up Game

One of the coolest new features of iOS 14 is something called App Clips, and...

One of the coolest new features of iOS 14 is something called App Clips, and if you’re an Android user, you’re probably already familiar with how it works. Basically App Clips are little slices of a full app that you can access through various means such as Safari, through NFC, through links in Messages, as a Card in the Maps app, and more. It lets a user enjoy the functions of an app or service without having to actually download the full app.

So for instance, if you wanted to rent a bike or scooter but don’t have the Bird or Lime or Uber app installed, you could scan the QR code on the rental vehicle and a little App Clip will pop up and allow you to rent the scooter anyway. Developers can even integrate Apple Pay or Sign in With Apple into App Clips so that there’s no need to enter any sort of data when utilizing an App Clip. As someone who has multiple times found themselves annoyingly having to download an app and sign up for a service on the spot for something, I love the idea of App Clips.

So far though Apple has really only been touting App Clips as these great, frictionless shortcuts to various products and services. But here in the video game world we’ve had a version of an “App Clip” for literally decades which we like to call the game demo! That’s right, give a user a taste of what you’re all about and entice them to grab the whole enchilada. While App Clips don’t immediately seem like they could be used for game demonstration purposes, our old pals at Firi Games are thinking outside of the box and have done precisely that by making a fully playable version of their fantastic bullet hell shooter Phoenix 2 available as an App Clip. Want to try it for yourself? Just head over to the game’s website on an iOS 14 device, and simply hit the Play button near the very top of the screen.

The App Clip experience only lasts for a couple of minutes, but it’s more than enough time to get a sense of what Phoenix 2 is all about. Longtime TouchArcade readers already know we’re big fans of the Phoenix games, and Firi has been keeping Phoenix 2 constantly updated with new content and features ever since it originally launched back in July of 2016. In fact it had been quite a while since I last dove into Phoenix 2, and this App Clip experience was really eye-opening to see how slick the game is looking nowadays.

Of course Phoenix 2 is free to play, so there’s no REAL reason someone couldn’t have just checked it out before without risk, but in this day and age time really is the most important resource and the frictionless experience of being able to instantly play the game through an App Clip could be the difference between someone discovering a new game that they end up loving or someone not bothering to even take the 30 seconds to download that game in the first place. What would really be interesting to see is if developers of paid games could create little App Clips giving people an instant taste of what they’d be getting by buying a game. And hey Apple, while we’re at it? Why not integrate App Clip game demos into all of the Apple Arcade games?

If utilized and pushed properly, App Clips as game demos could open up a whole new avenue of game discovery on the App Store. Of course it won’t work for every game, as App Clips are limited to just 10mb in size in order for them to be lightweight and instant, and even squeezing the whole introduction of Phoenix 2 into that small of a space was quite a challenge according to Firi. But I think the potential is really there, and I urge anyone who hasn’t encountered an App Clip yet, or even if you have, to visit the Phoenix 2 website and see how this new feature from Apple can be used as a game demo, because at least to me it feels very futuristic and I hope it becomes more widespread from here on out.

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