Gary Reblin is product innovation vice president for the U.S. Postal Service.
Apple’s update of the technological capability of the iPhone with the coming iOS release will allow the U.S. Postal Service to expand the opportunities and capabilities that can be provided to mailers.
There are three main additional capabilities that may help elevate the impact of Postal Service products: the iPhone camera can read QR codes; the ARKit allows for augmented reality creation, and the iPhone’s near field communications capability has expanded beyond Apple Pay. All three features can make it easier for customers to both create and interact with mail piece features.
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The QR code reader update removes the need for an additional application to read such codes. This removes the inconvenience of downloading a third-party QR reader application and streamlines the process of interacting with mail that features a QR code. For mailers, this may increase the value of leveraging QR codes to offer promotions in a mail piece and allows for a larger audience to be reached and positively affected.
The ARKit is a useful feature for mailers because it allows for easier creation of augmented reality features. This feature removes the need for a third-party AR application and increases the accessibility of AR for mail recipients. This can further allow for simpler creation and usage of AR in print and mail. Mailers may have an easier time offering promotions for AR integration in mail, allowing customers to see advertised products come to life in their individual realities.
The expansion of NFC beyond its use for Apple Pay is another feature that may expand the ability of mailers to offer promotions via Postal Service products. The iOS release will open the programming interface to NFC Core, which will allow developers to build applications with broader NFC capability. NFC Core allows for two-way wireless communication, so Apple apps can interact with NFC or RFID tags. The extension of the iPhone’s NFC capability can expand the audience with which a mailer can connect beyond Android users, who previously were the only ones with access to such a variety of NFC usage, and can increase the relevance and potential usage of NFC in print and mail.
The iOS 11 update, expected to be released in fall 2017, presents new opportunities for mailers to collaborate with the Postal Service and more easily connect to mail recipients. The Postal Service currently offers promotions for different types of technology applications with mail pieces, including those that engage the senses or promote online shopping. The Postal Service encourages mailers to add these features to their mail pieces to digitally engage customers with a brand, and this relationship will continue as new technology emerges.