iOS 14 will reportedly let users try out apps without installing them with a new ‘Clips’ feature

We will learn more about iOS 14 when this year’s all-digital Worldwide Developers Conference arrives in June, but we’re getting plenty of snippets before then. Like a new feature that will let users try out an app without installing it.

That’s what Apple is working on with iOS 14, based on information shared today by 9to5Mac. According to the publication, which was able to see an early build of iOS 14, Apple is working on a new “Clips” API that will make it possible for developers of third-party apps to bring interactive features to what boils down to a preview of an app, accessible via a scannable QR code. This will allow iOS 14 users to try out elements of an app before they fully download it.

Scanning QR codes is an option today with the current version of iOS, but doing so will open up Safari. Just like opening a link. Tapping the link or scanning the QR code for an app you haven’t installed on your device will just open a landing page for that app in Safari. And some links and QR codes can open the app in the App Store directly, skipping the Safari landing page. But this change with the Clips API would make it far more interactive and useful for users.

As 9to5Mac has analyzed this new API, we can say that it allows developers to offer interactive and dynamic content from their apps even if you haven’t installed them. The Clips API is directly related to the QR Code reader in the build we have access to, so the user can scan a code linked to an app and then interact with it directly from a card that will appear on the screen.

In the description of the new API, 9to5Mac uses watching a video on YouTube. So with the Clips feature, you can scan a QR code or tap a link that leads you to a video available to watch on YouTube. But if you don’t have the official app installed on your device, you’ll instead see a floating card that shows a native user interface, rather than jumping over to Safari.

Developers will need to specify which part of the app should be downloaded by iOS as an Over-The-Air package to read that content. The floating card will show options to download the full version of the app from the App Store or to open that content with the app if it’s already installed.

It’s worth noting that this new API only directly references QR codes, so it may not work with links. But this is, again, an early build of iOS 14 so this could change in the future.

The report says that Apple is testing the new API with companies like DoorDash, OpenTable, Yelp, and Sony, which may indicate we could see previews of this new feature from them at WWDC in a couple of months.

What do you think of this new feature? Should Apple devote any time of its keynote speech to this Clips API? Let us know in the comments below.