So, when I saw the bit about App Clips at WWDC last year, I wasn’t terribly excited. After all, QR codes have been around for ages; the fact that Apple ignored them until they could figure out a proprietary version struck me as par for the course. Even the example use case they gave (still give) seems geared toward chain stores in physical locations. But! An App Clip is a way to provide a subset of an iOS app’s functionality for free with a framework to upsell to the full app. Just what I want for a paid game!
I don’t like subscriptions. Sure, if the app uses some off-device resource that has an associated cost, I can see the need. It’s fair to pay for stuff. But for my simple little game, there’s really no point. I set it up to cost a dollar because the resources it took to build it weren’t free (had to license the icons, for example), but seriously, it didn’t cost much. But since it’s not a subscription, the App Store doesn’t provide an easy way to offer a free trial for a few days and then pay for it. I suppose other apps solve this with some kind of advertising and in-app purchase to buy the ad-free experience. I may not like subscriptions but I hate ads. I’m coming to the viewpoint that supporting your software with ads is equivalent to selling your users to the advertisers, and that, my friends, is human trafficking.
So anyway, I spent the past couple of days creating an App Clip for Three Lines, which lets you play the small board. The full game lets you play bigger boards and choose different icons. This seems like a great thing. But since it’s the first time I’ve done nearly all of this, I have no idea whether it’s going to work properly. This page ought to display a “Smart App Banner” if the conditions are right. As I understand it, that means the page is loaded in Safari, on an iOS device, that doesn’t already have Three Lines installed.
UPDATE: Okay, the smart app banner shows up (even though I have the app installed on my phone via TestFlight) but the banner is for the App Store page. How do I get it to be for the App Clip? Maybe I have to release the app with the clip first…but then how would I know that it works? Hmm. This does feel a little…undocumented.