- iOS 16 will launch later this year, bringing a range of sports features
- Apple Fitness will be made available to all iPhone users, even without an Apple Watch
Apple is rolling out a series of new features allowing sports fans to chat with their favorite teams, leagues and players directly from the tech giant’s operating systems.
iOS 16 updates for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV were unveiled at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in California, as Apple signaled a continued push into sports and fitness.
The biggest changes announced are to the lock screen and notifications, with the updates providing the ability to engage fans even when they’re not actively using their phone. Lock screens can now be customized with widgets that display real-time information, meaning sports organizations and publishers can act as third-party developers to create plugins that offer real-time updates, such as scores or comments.
The “Live Activities” feature will also get strong first-party support. Apple has added a sports section to its Apple News app, which will show scores, schedules and standings for many professional and college sports competitions.
A user’s favorite teams and leagues are synced across all devices, including Apple TV, to power these “Live Activity” notifications. Apple showed off a widget featuring Major League Baseball (MLB) scores and play-by-play action. The tech giant has a long-standing relationship with the North American baseball league, and the duo recently signed a broadcast deal to stream two exclusive games live on Apple TV+ each week.
The integration also gives sports publications and rights holders another way to reach fans, as well as generate additional revenue streams, with the potential to tap into Apple News’ more than 125 million subscribers. .
“Apple News is the number one news app wherever it’s available, and it’s about to get amazing for sports fans,” said Rubie Edminson, Apple’s sports editorial manager at the an event. “You can now follow your favorite teams and leagues to get stories from hundreds of top publishers in a brand new section called ‘My Sports’.”
Apple News+ subscribers will receive “premium” coverage from local newspapers and all users will be able to view highlights.
“Now you can see the best games from your favorite teams right in your News Feed,” added Edmonson, who confirmed that “My Sports” will be available in the US, UK, Canada and Spain. Australia when iOS 16 launches later this year.
Apple’s Fitness app will be available to all iPhone users, even if they don’t have an Apple Watch. Instead of a dedicated wearable, the app will take data from native iPhone motion sensors and third-party apps to track steps, distance, and workouts. The live activities frame means that this information can be displayed alongside the live sports widgets on the lock screen, if desired.
Apple’s unique selling point in the mobile market has always been the tight integration of hardware and software. As the smartphone market matured, Apple expanded into other devices and launched new services that generated subscription revenue that now constitutes a large part of its business, while tying more customers to its ecosystem.
The company has also launched dedicated music, video, news, games and fitness services that work across all of its devices. Now, with these new sports-specific features rolling out, it’s clear there’s a concerted effort to make the Apple ecosystem a perfect companion for sports fans.
Native support for scores, news and highlights can be positioned as a key feature of its products, while also acting as a hub that supports both first-party content and third-party applications, as well than the Apple TV streaming service. Apple could also gain an advantage when purchasing broadcast deals, as it will be able to offer rightsholders access to a highly engaged and loyal user base that is more comfortable adopting new new features and technologies than users of other technology platforms.