Laziness is Why I Started Developing for Actions on Google
Two Reasons Why You Should Develop Actions on Google
A few years ago, I got a phone call from a friend from New-York. He said, “Drop everything you’re doing, and start developing apps for the iPhone.”
I protested, skeptical if I had the patience to develop in language like Objective-C. He responded:
“Listen to me, iPhone is going to be the biggest thing ever, and right now their app store is empty.”
So I paid Apple to develop on their platform, built my first app, but I didn’t stick around. At the time, I was mostly creating websites for customers using PHP and JS, and worked on a lot of projects using Java. Getting into the weeds with Objective-C looked seemed like a lot of work just to build on a platform I didn’t believe in. Silly me.
From time to time I still get the old “ I told you so” from him, because he was right: that was the time to develop apps for iPhone. And not wanting to program Objective-C was a lame excuse.
So when the next “Next Big Thing” came around, I was going to be there.
Facebook released their API in 2007, and I found myself spending all my free time hacking the platform and developing as many application as I could. By the time Facebook apps hit the news (and all of a sudden basically every company need an app “just to stay in the game”), I was able to leverage my experience and knowledge of the platform to provide developing service around the clock.
I’ve been creating programs and developing software for more than 25 years, and so you can imagine that the iPhone App Store is not the only “Next Big Thing” I’ve missed, and that Facebook apps is not the only “Big Wave” I’ve caught.
I love geeking out about new technology and being an early adopter, and so I’ve been able to watch many technology fads or waves or whatever you want to call them come and go. I’ve been surprised both by the ones that I thought would succeed but didn’t, and those that I thought wouldn’t stick around but will probably last at least as long as the Internet.
The point is that no “Next Big Thing” is going to be a sure bet; if you’re always trying to catch the next wave, you have to take some risks and expect some failures.
So why do I think that hacking away on Actions on Google is how you should be spending your free time and gaining experience and expertise in?
Reason #1: Humans are Lazy. But they LOVE to Talk.
As an entrepreneur, I believe that all humans are lazy.
We usually consider laziness as something negative, but entrepreneurs know this is not the case. The best, most amazing, unbelievable, and awesome technological advances were created by the power of laziness.
Just ask Bill Gates:
“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
If you look at the history of communication between humans and computers (and technology in general), you will find how it’s been the lazy ones that have helped it improve the most. When I was a kid, my brother gave commands to computers using punch cards, a process that will take hours on hours just to ask from the simplest tasks from a computer.
When I started programming, keyboards helped us do the same job as my brother’s punch cards did but much more quickly and easily. Then some “lazy” genius found a way to improve the man-machine communication interface by adding a device called Mouse. Not that many years later, we got the touchpad. And of course, the touchscreen has stared revolutionizing the way we interact with computers even more. And yet, computers still don’t really “get” us humans, and we need to help them understand.
But this is starting to change and we’re getting closer to this “understanding” as technology evolves into “The AI.”
Machine learning (the more accurate name for “AI”) allows computers to understand one of the most complex things humans have been doing for millennia: talk. We can now talk to our computers, phones, cars, televisions… and they actually understand!
And since all humans are lazy (not just Bill Gates’s best employees), we would by and large rather talk to our technology than type to it. And there’s data that backs this up.
I believe that good technology should always aim to be as transparent to people as possible, so they will spend less energy to use it.
And since talking is one of our primary methods of communication, it makes sense that Actions on Google — which is all about making the interface between human and machine as “vocal” as possible — would be a good candidate for the “Next Big Thing.”
Because in a way, it already is!
Reason #2: The Time for Maximum Impact is Now!
If you’re in the entrepreneurial scene — or even just keep up to date on it — I’m sure you’re already sick and tired of the word “Bot.” In the last year, it’s felt like every new startup is all about bots, or more accurately, Conversational User Interfaces (CUI).
But when it comes to tech trends and making my decision about whether or not to join in, I like to see where it sits on the Gartner Hype Cycle.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Hype Cycle is a visual representation of the maturity, adoption, and social application of new technology put together by Gartner, an American research, advisory, and information technology firm. The hype cycle tracks tech trends through five phases, ranging from the “Technology Trigger” to the “Plateau of Productivity,” where the tech is adopted into the mainstream and helps spur on future advances.
According to a Gartner report from July 2017, the CUI is at the end of Technology Trigger phase, which means that it’s next up for a “Peak of Inflated Expectations” phase…
…and the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” phase happens to be the perfect time for an entrepreneur/developer/product to get in!
This is when the roller coaster nature of the cycle starts to get interesting: when the experts of the future are determined, when the future legend(s) of the field starts to emerge.
In other words, the people who act now will have a significant impact on the emerging trend as it continues on along the cycle.
Do you want to be one of them?
How much would you give to go back to 1994 and the earlier days of the internet, and buy 10 domain names to sell later (e.g., Insurance.com: $35.6 million, sold in 2010; Insure.com: $16 million, sold in 2009; Hotels.com: $11 million, sold in 2001; Sex.com: $13 million, sold in 2010 — the list continues).
Or maybe you’d want to go back to 2011 and buy some bitcoin at $12? You could have been this high school dropout who invested in bitcoin at $12 is now a millionaire at 18.
Do you think it was stupid of me to not listen to my friend and develop as many apps as I could for the early iPhone?
I don’t have a time machine, but all I’m saying is that the Action for Google directory is pretty empty right now. And you could be one of the ones to make the “Next Best Thing” for it.