How many apps do you have in your smartphone? How many of them do you use on a daily basis? Do you think they could be replaced?
Since the Apple Store launched in 2008, coining the word “Apps” to name mobile programs, there have been more than 100 billion apps downloaded from the Apple Store alone, and $20bn spent by customers on iOS Apps in 2016. Quick and convenient, they rapidly became a revolution and its popularity was enormous, to the extent that they are now present in tablets, laptops or watches. More popularity was the result of the creation of millions of Apps, each of them more innovative—and more useless.
Nowadays we suffer from App fatigue. There are too many that it can be exhausting. But users are becoming more selective. Everything changed with the introduction of Siri, Google Now or Cortana for computers, just to name a few. They are Intelligent Virtual Assistants created to help you. You just need to ask them.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft claimed that “human language is the new user interface now.” The rise of mobile chat bots and VAS will change the way we use smartphones, as well as the way we organize our lives. Mobile operating systems are becoming more intelligent as they combined with an enhanced contextual understanding of our activities, calendar, contacts, location and predilections. Just imagine you are taking a flight to see your family next month. You can have everything arranged just by asking the VA implemented in your phone. Booking flights, offering you recommendations for events, restaurants and cafés, finding you a perfect flower store in your destination, setting an alarm so you will wake up early and making sure you have a taxi at your door at the exact day and hour to drive you in time to the airport. Now try to do this by using apps. You would need weather forecast information, an app for booking flights, making a reservation at a hotel, consulting opinions and reviews, tracking the perfect route, checking maps…and so on. And you would have to consult them constantly to make sure the information hasn’t changed.
VAs learn from you. The more information you tell them the smarter they will be. How many times have you downloaded and re-downloaded an app, just to delete it again after you use it? Users want a conversational interface and smaller applications with larger data sets that will make the experience of asking your phone more natural, more humane and gratifying. Applications as we know them today are doomed to obsolescence. Only a handful of them are absolutely key to our lives.
Apps have been the software gold rush. We have seen the market saturated with all types of them and it seems there is truly an app for everything and everyone, but they fail to be more than mere and temporary entertainment. Like all gold rushes, they must come to an end. Once the primary layer through which we interacted with all our mobile devices, now they are giving way to the new world: Virtual Robots.