Is messaging killing your favourite apps?

The app space is rapidly changing. Nearly four out of five smartphone app minutes are spent on an individual’s top three apps. And the majority of those apps are messaging apps.

Think about the last apps you used, chatting or emailing is bound to form the basis of your everyday smartphone experience. Are we witnessing the extinction of “the app” as it exists today?

Social messaging tools are ousting apps to govern our smartphone experience. Why? Because a conversation is a more natural and fluid way for humans to share information than another app interface where information has to be hunted out.

This social messaging revolution is predicted to gather pace rapidly. Speaking at the WSJD Live 2015 conference, technology strategist Michael Wolf presented research that social media apps will be used by 2.4 billion of the 4 billion internets users in 2018. But social messaging apps will be used by a whopping 3.6 billion. Yeah, that big!

It is clear that users crave communication and usability, not a heap of downloaded apps that they have to endlessly switch between (or rarely use).

So, in the post-app apocalypse wasteland, how will users interact with their smartphones?

If social messaging does overtake all other app experiences, there is one common thing that all such chat-based apps share: the user needs to type.

I personally think we underestimate the keyboard interface. Just look at the facts: it’s already used by the average smartphone user for 16 hours per week and 70% of that time is spent chatting or emailing. To match a user’s desire to communicate and streamline their app experience, there is a clear path I think: bringing some “essentials” into the keyboard.

The keyboard will become an app inside an app. It’s the vehicle for the social messaging revolution and unwitting assassin of the traditional app (or best ally yeah?).

For me, the role of the keyboard will go beyond just typing. It will allow users to communicate intelligently, contextually and seamlessly by transforming itself into a hub of information, which is all accessible with the tap of a finger and from one central point. For example, say you’re chatting to a friend; by just using your keyboard, you could check your calendar, find a restaurant and book a table for dinner in a few taps and without leaving the chat app.

For me, there’s an ongoing silent revolution in the messaging space. It is enhancing every aspect of the way we interact with our devices and it will take the messaging space by surprise.

I see a future where users will access information from inside their keyboard directly instead of downloading, storing and opening multiple apps a day. This “thing” will become the medium for users to access multiple chunks of information. It will not only let users type but also streamline the whole social messaging phenomenon.

This revolution has already begun in my sense but there is so much more that they could achieve in the post-app era. Yes, post-PC — now, post-APP.

The exact nuances of the post-app interface are unknown but the shift from using hundreds of apps to conducting a simple conversation, is an overwhelming possibility. It’s also need to be a brutally simple and elegant solution. And, if chat does oust apps to form the centre of the user experience, the keyboard is the obvious medium to drive the social messaging revolution don’t you think?

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Olivier is the co-founder of Thingthing Ltd., a young and dynamic company with the ambition to build the future of messaging.

Today, Thingthing simple and straightforward UX/UI lets users easily share docs, photos, calendar availabilities and more while messaging. We’ve won many awards, been in the press and we’re backed by amazing mentors, advisors and investors.

Tomorrow, we believe the future will be one where switching between apps, single-function keyboards and languages will be obsolete.