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iOS 14 ‘Clips’ API could offer app content without installing

Apple iPhone and iPad users may soon be able to access portions of third-party apps without actually installing them on the devices.

Judging by code spied within iOS 14, Apple is developing a new ‘Clips’ API which would enable users to access portions of an app just by scanning a QR code.

References to the new feature were spotted by 9to5Mac, which explains how the feature appears to work. If the user scans a QR code from an app developer they can interact with content from that app, minus the need to download it from the App Store.

The content would appear in the form of a pop-up card showing content from the application in question, while also offering the option to download the full app. It’s not clear quite what functionality it would offer, but one can imagine users being able to, say, book train tickets from an app by scanning the QR code at the station.

Related: iOS 14 – 6 big improvements we want

Currently if you scan these QR codes, you’ll be guided to a Safari web page if the app is not installed. If you already have the app, the link will give users the chance to open that app.

The Clips API shouldn’t be confused with Apple’s short form video editing app by the same name. In this instance, Clips would probably refer to the portion of the app being accessed.

The new feature sounds pretty similar to Google’s Slices, which appears within the Android operating system. Google has been working on ways to shift apps to web-based content for some time now.

It’s by no means guaranteed that Apple will build this feature into iOS 14. The company often tests future tech in early versions of its software which often take a while to make it to the consumer releases. However, it is an exciting look at the future, which may eventually negate the need to pack our homescreens with so many apps.

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