3 things insurers need to know about iOS 13

June 20, 2019


Apple recently announced its latest operating system for the iPhone – iOS 13. iOS 13 is chock-full of new features, but there are three in particular that auto insurers need to know about: app location permissions, Sign In With Apple, and Dark Mode. Let’s take a look at each one.

1. App Location Permissions

Apple continues to focus on providing its users with privacy, or at least the power to control it. (If they take advantage of it is a separate discussion.) iOS 13 introduces new permissions to track a user’s location. It’s designed to do two things. One: Help users understand how their location data is being used. Two: Make it easier for users to turn off location tracking.

iOS 12 location permission

In practice, this means that Apple has removed the dialogue box for location permissions that forced the user to choose: Only While Using the App, Always Allow, Don’t Allow (above). In iOS 13, there is no “Always Allow” in the first dialogue box. Users will need to choose: Allow While In Use, Allow Once, Don’t Allow. Apps won’t be able to get permission to access a user’s location in the background without explicit consent.

ios 13 location permission

If an app wants to track location in the background, the user will get a prompt asking if they want to Keep Only While Using or Always Allow (above). The prompt will show a map of the location data the app is tracking. There will also be an explanation of why you need to give the app always-on access to your location data. For example, in the example above, the Apple Store app says it will use your data to provide relevant products, features, and services depending on where you are.

What the location permissions change means for insurers

The location permissions change will affect insurers in different ways. If an insurer doesn’t ask for location permissions in any of its apps, it won’t affect them. However, if an insurer has a UBI app that uses smartphone technology to monitor driving behavior, the change will make an impact. Smartphone telematics technology needs both location and motion permissions to measure driving behavior. With a UBI program, customers have already bought into the idea that an app needs to monitor their driving behavior in order for them to get a discount. It should come as no surprise the app is tracking their location in the background.

Insurers shouldn’t resist this new experience or worry about users dropping out of their program because of it. Instead, they should embrace it as a new opportunity to highlight the value of their program. Here are some quick ideas for the messaging in the dialogue box: Celebrate the customer’s progress so far and encourage them to keep going. Thank them for being a customer and for joining the program. Remind them of the potential savings they could have. Highlight the dangers of distracted driving. Encourage safe driving habits. [Insert your own here.]

In a sense, the UBI case is an easy one to make for location permissions. The customer thinks they’re a safe driver and wants to save money on their auto insurance. Location tracking is a requirement.

Making the case for location tracking for their core apps will be more challenging for insurers. Most use cases for a core insurance app, such as calling a representative, getting roadside assistance, paying bills, etc. don’t need Always On location access. The app can easily handle these use cases with Only While Using location access. If an insurer wanted to track location data in the background with their core app, they would need a compelling use case – like a crash detection and accident assistance program.

The key here is that the insurer communicates the value of the program and the customer buys into it before they’re asked for Always On location permissions. If a customer doesn’t know why an app needs to access their location all the time, they’re going to shut it down.

Sign In with Apple

2. Sign In With Apple

Sign In With Apple is Apple’s response to similar products from Facebook and Google. You can find across the web and mobile apps. While the core value for these products has traditionally been a seamless sign-in across multiple sites and apps, Apple is adding a new dimension. Apple’s play with Sign In With Apple is to provide a universal sign-in product that also protects a user’s privacy. Apple is fond of saying they don’t use data for advertising like Google and Facebook. 

Sign In with Apple will be available for beta testing this summer. It will be required as an option for users in apps that support third-party sign-in when it is commercially available later this year. — Update to the App Store Guidelines

But Apple is taking it a step further. When you use Sign In With Apple you can hide the email address connected with it. Apple will create random email addresses that forward the email to your real address. You can delete these “burner” email addresses at any time, essentially preventing companies from marketing to you in the future. The catch is that every iOS app that has third-party sign-in will be required to include Sign In With Apple. 

What Sign In With Apple means for insurers

Insurers should try to own as much of the customer relationship as possible. In this context, the argument of creating a seamless sign-in experience for users by using a third-party sign-in is weak. However, there are situations where an insurer may want to use a Facebook sign-in. Apps with a social component that need to tap into a user’s social network would likely benefit from a Facebook sign-in. For example, a Try-Before-You-Buy app that puts you against your friends in a safe driving challenge would need a frictionless way to invite friends into the challenge.

But now with Sign In With Apple and the option for users to create a “burner” email address, the danger of losing contact with a customer is more acute. And with the App Store guidelines that say every app with a third-party sign-in is required to include Sign In With Apple, insurers will need to weigh the benefits of easier social connections through a Facebook sign-in with the potential disconnection through Sign In With Apple.  

Dark Mode

3. Dark Mode

Dark Mode has been all the rage at Apple since it introduced it last year in macOS Mojave. Now Dark Mode is coming to your phone with iOS 13.

The purported benefits of Dark Mode are that it can take the stress off the eyes when looking at apps for extended periods. It can also help extend battery life because fewer pixels need to be lit up. It will also help with reading in the dark.

What Dark Mode means for insurers

Dark Mode sounds cool, but what are the benefits to insurers? Adding Dark Mode may also help position an insurer as being more digitally savvy or catering to younger customers. From a user experience point of view, users may find their insurers app more pleasurable to use at night. Is it worth the technical resources? It’s hard to say how much of an effort this will be, so we’ll have to wait and see what the response is from iOS users in the fall.

What do you think? Are there any other iOS 13 features insurers need to know about? Let us know in chat.

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