Apps and websites will die within a decade

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, apps and websites will become relics of the Internet’s humble early days.

When artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning mature, usage of websites, utility apps and the graphical user interface (GUI) will diminish — initially becoming secondary methods of input before they cease to exist totally. Speech and gestures will become more mainstream and we will use spoken instructions to access content and complete tasks.

Rewind back to today, friends shoot me a geek alert look when I use Siri to complete basic tasks like checking if it will rain today so I can know to carry an umbrella, or asking it to tell me how much dollar I can get for a British pound today. Many of us — for the right reason — don’t have enough confidence in the technology so we just don’t use it. It’s just not that good. Yet.

AI such as Cortana, Google Now, Siri and co., are very much in their infancy — and the big tech players in this space are only starting to scratch the surface. The more advanced these AIs get, the more confidence we’ll have in them. That will in turn lead us to using them more frequently. As the frequency increases, AI will learn more from humans and those learnings will make them more efficient at understanding our slangs, our natural ways of speaking, our accents — even right down to our individual verbal idiosyncrasies.

Microsoft named its proprietary AI after Cortana (above); a fictional super-advanced holographic AI from Halo — the hit Xbox game franchise.

When AI attains such capable levels and humans get comfortable with the technology (yes, we will come around to embracing it), we will start to use AI as proxies. Each one of us will pair with an instance of an AI — which will carry our biometric signatures with them. And go on errands on our behalf. And return to us with desired outcomes.

For example, your bank will let Siri query the cash balance of your account following a simple voice instruction from you — that negates the need for an Internet banking app or a telephonic IVR system. Another application to Siri will enable it advice you on how to spend money because you’re running low on cash and pay day is still a while away. These AIs will become the operating systems of our devices, vehicles — even our homes will take spoken and gestured instructions. For example, you will be able to unlock your front door or your car just by saying the words. You will not press any SatNav buttons to set a destination — you will say the words.

“Touch, swipe, click and the graphical user interface will become a secondary (if fail-safe) method of human-computer interaction”

Android Auto, CarPlay and other exciting emerging technology such as Virtual Reality (e.g Oculus) and Augmented Reality (e.g Hololens) are hinting at a more immersive future for digital content consumption. In future, digital entertainment will step out from behind the glass and onto spatial real estate — so even mobile entertainment apps aimed at playing games or watching movies will not survive.

Many Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices today rely on companion mobile apps to control them. I imagine that the mobile device of the future will not be a telephonic computer at all — it may be nothing more than a tiny printed electronic tag that;

  1. receives all your instructions as input;
  2. interfaces with the other devices within your personal ecosystem;
  3. runs your errand, and;
  4. returns with the outcomes you need as output

— all within less than a second.

Although the mobile phone had been existing since 1973, it didn’t start to attain prominence and seismic disruption until the iPhone happened more than three decades later in 2007. That’s less than 10 years ago.

When artificial intelligence matures, adoption rates will take off and — within a space of ten years — we will leave mobile apps, websites and the graphical user interface in the past.