Is this the beginning of the end of Communication through Applications?
Technology's pace of change is amazing. Computer technology is now progressing every hour more than it did in its entire first 90 years and computing power is generally doubled every 2 years!! (check out Moore's Law).
We change technology, and it changes us back. A cycle.
Technology changes the way we think, the way we act and the things we expect from this world and life. When I was a child, if I had a question, I would go to my parents and ask them. If they had no answer, I would look in our old encyclopedia or go and ask someone else like my teacher. In some cases I didn't get an answer at all. My kids however, they ask Alexa first and if she doesn't know, they ask Mr. Google (and he knows everything!).
Our way of communication is also changing. It needs to be immediate, rich, fast and allow multi-tasking of course. "I am not only talking with you over FaceTime, I am also answering few Emails on my tablet, the last 'Game of Thrones' episode is playing on my Roku, Oh, and I found out that I am running out of coffee so just clicked Amazon Dash to reorder that..."
The mobile phone or actually the smartphone has a huge part in these changes. Its pace of change was incredible, for both the device itself and the way we communicate with it. This "magical" cycle of technology changes us - changing technology - changes us... keeps feeding it, so the constant 'need for change' is always in the air. I mentioned some of that in my previous post about modular phones and as I am building mobile applications and follow the mobile SW industry trends I see more of that change in other aspects.
There are 2 ways we actually communicate with the smartphone:
The way we physically communicate with it - the way our body interact with it, for example the fingerprint recognition, different gestures like shaking the phone, body movement recognition, voice activation like Siri and others.
The way we virtually communicate with it - it is done by the means of applications that enable us to communicate with the world. They receive and deliver information for us.
Applications are the classic method to operate within our smartphone. Everybody knows them, everybody build them. But I sense something is changing in that classic formula.
Look at some of the developments and announcements by industry leaders:
Notifications - 2 years ago, iOS and Android introduced Interactive Notifications, an enhancement to the 'static' ones. This is actually an interactive notification layer on top of the application layer, allowing you not just to get the notification but also to perform certain actions on the application, via the notification itself.
Chatbots - In F8, April 2016, Facebook introduced their Messenger Platform with chatbots. They predict (or wish?) it will take over many of the actions we do today via applications. Basically it will allow you to get information or perform certain actions by a text 'discussion' with a chat SW bot over Facebook Messenger.
Instant Apps - Fresh announcement from Android I/O last month. Basically it will allow you to start using the App or part of it almost instantly, without the need to download it, similar to a webpage.
All three, are different in features, implementation and even levels of the stack, but actually the same in concept – they call for change in the way we communicate and interact with the applications and the data they hold.
The routine of downloading the app, getting into it, performing actions and receiving data, can actually be broken. The same actions can be done on the notification layer, or in simple 'text discussion' on a messenger platform, or you don't need even to download the app in order to do it... The formula is changing. The UX, in its boarder sense, is changing for more seamless experience, speed, multi-tasking - exactly like we, people, were changed to be.
So App stores are not being drain out of Apps anytime soon and obviously nothing is changing over night. There is a big question of how this will shape to be, from the technological aspect (is it on the OS level? of by a different platform like Facebook? or actually both?) and the commercial aspect (Apps are generating a lot of money for a lot of people, and good money is hard to change...), but I sense a trend here, and if there really is one, we can't ignore it. Is this the beginning of the end of Communication through Applications?