The next year will bring us the biggest evolution on the App Store since its inception.
And once again, we have Apple to thank for it.
At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company announced a series of changes. But one particular change stood out and is getting lots of attention in the mobile app industry.
It’s going to radically change the church app space for the better in the coming year.
Standalone, templated mobile apps have been an important step toward the future of church mobile strategy, but they’ve never been the end game. They clutter mobile app stores, they create confusion, they complicate the updating process, and they lower the quality of app experiences across the board. On top of this, how many First Baptist Churches are there in the United States? That makes searching for the right church app pretty complicated.
All of this has severely stifled your church’s ability to use mobile to strengthen community, connection, and belonging.
Unfortunately, standalone, templated apps have been the standard for the church industry. Churches have grown accustomed to having their own apps with their own names and logos—even if it didn’t provide them with the best app experience possible. We knew we had to offer a better way forward, but we couldn’t break the logjam.
However, Apple could—and they did.
Enter Apple’s New Change
If you’re an iPhone user who spends time in the App Store, you know it has become crazy in recent years. It’s like the Wild, Wild West hiding in your pocket. As of June, you’ll find 2.3 million apps in Apple’s store. That number has tripled in just four years. With that growth has come increased clutter and confusion. It’s harder than ever to find the right app at the right time.
Apple had a vested interest in fixing their App Store and making apps easier to find—they’ll be getting rid of hundreds of thousands of badly created, mass-produced apps in the process.
So the company that gave us the iPhone a decade ago set out to clean up its store. Enter this year’s Rule 4.2.6, which simply states, “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.”
Simply put, Apple has put an end to the standalone, templated church app.
What echurch Is Doing
For the last several months, we’ve been having conversations with Apple about how to serve churches best after this game-changing ruling. They have been working with us to provide a smooth transition for the churches we serve.
By the end of 2017, we intend to debut a new consolidated app that will provide the best onboarding experience we’ve ever produced. This new app will be significantly easier to find and will soon include new features that will shape the future of how churches engage their communities through mobile technology.
Frankly, it’s where church apps should have been three years ago.
For example, next year we’ll roll out Facebook and Google integrations to create a more personalized experience for each end user. This will enable your app to deliver timely and relevant content, events, and information that is unique to each user based on their interests and profile.
We’ll also soon be debuting what we call a Dynamic Homescreen to provide an Instagram-esque experience. This new feature will ensure your newest app content is what users see first when they open your app, making your homescreen more personalized and engaging than ever.
What This Means for Your Church
Through our new consolidated app, your users will see more of the content they want. This will increase participation and engagement, which will help your church better move forward in achieving its mission in the community.
You’re also getting an easier-to-find app. No more sending users to the App Store to search through an endless supply of churches with similar names. They’ll be able to find your church within the consolidated app often without a search (more on this in the coming weeks).
Change is the only constant in the mobile space. Sometimes those changes will be good (like this one). Other changes may not be as helpful. But regardless, we have your back. The huge shifts in the mobile world are why you have an enterprise-level partner like echurch.
We have nearly 100 people on our product team. We’re adding new product managers, designers, and developers to our product team all the time. Why? We want to help the churches we serve maintain a level of excellence. We want to help you produce an app your people will actually use. Through echurch, you’ll get a custom experience like no other—and you’ll get it for a fraction of the cost of creating and maintaining your own app.
At echurch, we believe in your mission. We want to help you use mobile to achieve that mission by strengthening community, connection, and belonging.
Our new consolidated app is a large leap in that direction—but it’s just the beginning. We can’t wait to see what God will do through your church as we embrace together the ministry potential of our mobile future.