App clips provide app-like functionality on your iPhone (or iPad) without downloading a full app. They have all sorts of uses, from viewing apps and games to paying for parking and other goods. Here̵
What are app clips?
App Clips, introduced in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, allows you to run an application without having to download it from the App Store first. They are small, lightweight versions of apps that can be downloaded immediately. If you like the look of an app or want to reuse it, you also have the option to permanently download it to your device.
App clips can be especially useful because features like Apple Pay are fully supported. It allows you to start an app clip, make a purchase, and then get on with your day. Without app clips, you will have to launch the App Store, search for the app, verify to install it, launch it, and then possibly still sign in.
This is inconvenient if you only have to pay for parking or rent a bicycle. With App Clips, the whole process is streamlined thanks to the multiple ways you can access them, both over the web and in the real world.
Where to find app clips
Many websites offer iPhone app counterparts that are advertised at the top of the screen when you visit that website from your smartphone. If an app supports app clips, you’ll see an option at the top to ‘open’ the app clip, such as the Unwind mindfulness app, shown below.
Direct links to app clips are also available. Some apps, such as Messages, have a full description of clips integrated into the preview.
App clips can also be found in the real world on things like parking meters and fuel pumps. Apple has launched its own App Clip Codes that you can scan with your iPhone’s camera. There is also support for Quick Response (QR) codes (also scanned by the camera) and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags. The latter works when your iPhone gets close to them.
When you activate an app clip, an overlay appears at the bottom of the screen. It’s similar to what appears when you install an app from the App Store. Tap “Open” and the app will retrieve all necessary data. This process can take place immediately or take about 30 seconds, depending on the app and your connection.
With the App Clip open, you can do everything you need to do, whether it’s paying for goods via Apple Pay or testing a game before buying it. Any apps that require a login can do this through Apple for instant, anonymous access.
Some app clips also include a link that allows you to download the full version of an app, but not others. Some will ask you to download the full version when you reach the limits of the App Clip, such as completing a level of a game.
Recall app clips from the app library
You can find app clips that you have recently used in the app library on the last page of your iPhone home screen. Scroll down to see all currently available app clips. According to Apple, these are automatically deleted after a period of inactivity, but for how long that is not specified.
It is impossible to manually remove app clips from this list like with a default app. After you download the full version of an app, that version, not the app clip, will start. This is true even if you scan an app clip or QR code or tap an NFC tag.
If you’re excited about how App Clips could change the way you download software, check out how iOS 14 widgets can transform your iPhone home screen.
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