Someone please explain WTF Are the app clips exactly?

I just don't understand.

I just don’t understand.
Screenshot: Apple

The lack of applause during this year’s World Developers Conference main conference meant that updates to Apple’s new operating systems were overlooked at a carpal tunnel-inducing speed. It also meant that Apple quickly went through the big changes that came to iOS 14. Specifically, we were left wondering: Wait, what the hell are App Clips?

App Clips, apparently, is Apple’s version of Instant Apps on Android. At least this is what Gizmodo’s resident phone guru Sam Rutherford tried to explain. Unfortunately, I have less than zero clues on how snapshots work, as 1) I only use my Pixel 4 to transcribe notes and test the weird gadget; and 2) some Android users in our office were also baffled that this was a feature that exists.

During the keynote, App Clips were introduced thematically as a distillation of the old motto “There is an app for that.” From the video, it seems that the App Clips are small pop-up cards that … appears when you need to do something a normal application would do? Apple explained that the card is a type of direct access to the application, where it is not necessary to download a complete application to use the functionality of that application. A Lite version of an app, so to speak.

It also appears that App Clips uses visual code and NFC to inform you when a company supports App Clips. It would seem that Apple took transactions into account when developing App Clips, as it supports Apple Pay and login with Apple.

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I understand all of this, but, reader, I still don’t understand why you would want to use App Clips.

If it is about simplifying contactless payments, there is usually a small Apple Pay sign at the register and then I can continue to use Apple Pay on my phone as I always have. So in which case would I need to use a lite version of an app that I don’t really want to download?

Forgive me, but if I’m going to use an app at least once or twice a month, I will probably download it and therefore don’t need App Clips to show up and get confused. Take, for example, Lyft. I don’t use ridesharing every week, but I do it enough that it’s worth keeping on my phone.

But what if I’m going to use Apple Pay at a store where I don’t want to download its standalone app, like Starbucks? In that case, I can only pay with my credit card. Or in cash? It may be a matter of ordering in advance and not having to download the Starbucks app to do so. That could be useful given the ongoing pandemic. Hey, maybe I have it! Except, no, wait, if I’m browsing coffee shops in the Maps app, you could theoretically pick any coffee shop you want. Wouldn’t it be better to just order from a place that I really like, and therefore wouldn’t mind downloading the app, if there is one? Is it meant for that random instance where I’m stranded in the middle of nowhere and the only restaurant chain I can ask for is one that I do not do it I like it? And in this case, should I believe that there is absolutely no other option?

Sam, in his infinite patience, redirected me to one of the other examples that Apple passed on in his main speech: parking meters. But this is, again, a hyper specific instance! If I’m local, isn’t it? Would it be easier for me to download the parking application specific to my area when I am using a metered location? And if I’m not local but I’ll be in the area for a week or two, why is it so complicated … just download the app and then delete it when you’re done. I can think of at least one instance where I was on vacation and the local parking app allowed me to add more time remotely. Could App Clips do that, or is it dependent on scanning a QR code, forcing me to transport my ass in record time for not getting a parking ticket?

Illustration for article titled Someone, please explain: WTF are the app clips exactly?

Photo: Apple

Maybe is As the screenshot above would suggest, simply a method of riding one of those death scooters without having to sign up for the app. It would be great if you tried it once and hated it completely. But if I liked it, wouldn’t I want to download the application? Also, I don’t really see the problem with downloading an app to test a service and then immediately remove it if I don’t find it useful. It takes two seconds.

OK, you say, but at least App Clips will help you get rid of app-related clutter. But isn’t that what the new app library is made for? If I can organize my messy apps, isn’t it logical to think I don’t need App Clips?

I’m stumped I want you to like the app clips. After much thought, my brain hurts because I don’t understand why I would want App Clips or what problem it’s solving. I am willing to admit that, perhaps, I am missing something very big here. Despite the growl, I am really looking for enlightenment. So please help me understand: Why the heck do I want App Clips again?