The Future of Apps – A Service, Not a Destination
I use the word “Future” lightly because mobile apps as a service is the reality now. It’s the mass mindset change that we will see in the coming months and years.
Our vocabulary doesn’t help the situation – the naming of “mobile app” implies a thing, a silo. “Mobile Service” might soon be more appropriate.
Once we get our head around the idea, and potential, of an app as a service, rather than a thing, I believe big changes are going to happen. They already are, but more on that later in this post.
The present situation that we are all familiar with is – unlock your phone, and what do you see? Screens of apps. Apple, with their iPhone started the trend, and the other platforms followed suit.
Oh wait, there was the Palm Pilot with their screen of applications even before that. Maybe a grid of applications isn’t that revolutionary after all?
Back to 2016 – Our mindset around these apps is that you download, install and open them as you need or want a certain activity: “I need directions to my destination, I’ll open the Google Maps app.”; “I need to send a Facebook message to my mother, I’ll open the Facebook Messenger app.”; and so on.
What if we didn’t have to “open” an app in order to use the service it provides? What if we didn’t have to download the app in the first place?
This “What if” is less than a year away.
Last month at Google I/O, Android Instant Apps was announced. New technology that Google is experimenting with to enable the user to access app functionality, without downloading the entire app. Only the pieces you need at that moment are accessed by your device – and it happens instantly.
A great example, and one I’m excited to see, is an instant pay for parking app.
Wouldn’t it be convenient if, while visiting a new city for the day, you weren’t forced to download the city’s parking app and register, just to buy a half day of parking? You would hold your smartphone beside the parking meter, the pay for parking service would be activated and opened, you enter your credit card information to pay, and get on with your visit.
Oh and wait – it can get better. The service notices when your meter is about to run out of time and pops up a notification – if you want to refill you can buy more time, from within the notification.
Interactive notifications are already possible in Android and iOS and have been evolving and growing more sophisticated over the last couple years.
In the near future we will see more app services consumed via notifications, and notification-like ‘cards’.
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