Apple is introducing a new developer toolkit that will make it easier to introduce users to their mobile apps by showing them tips on how to get started. Typically, developers have to design their own onboarding or tutorial-type experiences or utilize those provided by a third party. With Apple’s TipKit, they’ll now have the option of a native solution, Apple told developers at its Worldwide Developers Conference this week.
According to the documentation Apple is sharing with developers, the new TipKit framework will include templates that will match what users are already used to sharing in system apps. These will be customizable to match the look and feel of the developer’s own app. Plus, Apple says developers will be able to control when and where their tips appear. That means the tips don’t necessarily have to only be used for onboarding. Developers could also introduce tips when users begin to explore a new section of the app, or they could set them up to be triggered by certain rules.
In the latter scenario, this would allow developers to not bother experienced users with tips, including those who had already discovered how certain features in the app worked, for instance. Developers could also specify when to show a tip — like after a user had visited a particular app section or used a certain feature a few times. The developer could then pop up a tip that would help them take advantage of more advanced options or guide them to a hidden feature perhaps, as the user continued to learn about the app.
— MoEngage (@moengage) June 6, 2023
In addition, developers will be able to configure the cadence with which their tips appear to not overwhelm users. It’s particularly annoying to launch a new app and then be suddenly walked through a dozen pop-up tips pointing out every app feature. (Personally, we’ve always believed that if a consumer-facing app has to rely on tips to train users how the app works, they may need to rethink the design!) However, a few targeted tips that appear at the right time could be helpful, as they wouldn’t get in the way of using the app upon first launch but would rather show up just when a user is trying to learn about a new or unexplored feature.
With TipKit, developers could also opt to stretch out their tutorials over a period of days to slowly introduce returning users to their app’s full functionality, instead of choosing to overload them with tips upfront. And, because TipKit is an Apple-provided framework, the rules and configurations would easily sync across a user’s devices, meaning users wouldn’t have to see the same tips when using the app on their iPad after they were already shown them on their iPhone.
It appears Apple itself will be leveraging TipKit to introduce native tips to its own apps, like FaceTime, Photos, and Messages in iOS 17, according to images shared by developers (e.g., in the tweet embedded below). This will make seeing tips a more consistent experience across the platform, which will help to educate users and reduce confusion.
Previously, Apple had tried to introduce users to its own first-party apps and features through a dedicated Tips app, launched in iOS 8, that came pre-installed on iPhone. It’s unclear if that app will stick around now that TipKit is available.