The future of Mobile — there’s no App for that

There will be no more Apps in the future.

I have over 200 apps on my phone right now. And if that wasn’t bad enough, my folders broke down once upon an update, and I now have 2 screens of mostly-empty folders, and 12 screens of unorganized apps.

I’m not in the mobile business (though I have very close friends who are), so I’m not just installing “everything out there” for commercial reasons. I loosely followed one blog for a a few years (MacRumors) and now I’m up to two (AppleInsider), and there are many more like them. They sometimes have tips about new apps and/or games, usually discounted or even free for a day or five, so I get new apps every now and again. And what with my friends in the business, I have installed no more than 10 apps that came from them. So the point I’m trying to make is that I’m a relatively normal mobile user, with normal incentives for buying/installing new apps.

Yet I’ve gotten to a point where I no longer know where my apps are; I’d be dead without the search function. Luckily, my memory is ok, so I remember what kind of apps I have, and enough about their names so that I can find them. I’m sure I don’t use more than 30–40% of them, but that’s a discussion for another day.

My phone can do a lot of things for me. It can book tables, find places, direct me to those places, take dictation and send out messages, set/move/cancel meetings, and so on. That is, just by me asking it to do things. But it can also do much more. It can read the noise levels, for one. I have about 5 apps for that, as of this morning, since I wanted one that was tested with my phone, and the old app I had has been more or less abandoned. So my phone can in fact figure out how much noise there is in my car. But it has no idea that it can do it!

So here’s what will happen: the apps will contain metadata about what it is that they do. The OS will read and interpret that metadata. And when I ask Siri to tell me what is the current noise level, it will answer. When all apps do this, they will no longer be Apps. They won’t need to have funky graphical interfaces for no reason, just so that they can give out a number. They won’t need to fight for attention in an App Store in the same crazy way they do today, and they won’t all need to have smart/cool/innovative names. They will just need to exist, be findable, and do what they do (very) well.

And I won’t need to remember all of them.

There will be Games, there will be various artistic tools, and who knows how many other things. But there won’t be 10.000 different weather Apps, and there won’t be 50 different apps that are part of the same tool. No separate messenger app for Facebook, and no 7 different apps for my Sensordrone, just because they like having one each for temperature, and gas levels, and color intensity, and so on.

The first step is for Apple to level the playing field by allowing apps to publish metadata on what they do, and by making Siri use them. And as far as I know, that’s just around the corner, and I think it’s great. Step two would be for Siri to find a way to combine the inputs and outputs from different apps.

Do you guys remember Jarvis, Iron Man’s virtual assistant? We all want one, and I really can’t imagine having to find and buy 1000 different Apps for it. Or it asking me if I want the damn link opened in Safari, Opera or Chrome..

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