Back in 2011 Scott Jenson, at the time a Creative Director at Frog, wrote an article titled Mobile Apps Must Die. In this post he claims, essentially, that the current model of searching, finding, and obtaining mobile applications is archaic and one that has been thoughtlessly taken from the desktop world. The main frustration is around discoverability, distribution, and fragmentation. Scott proposes a model where applications are made available to the user based on their current context, or rather, just-in-time, and delivered using ubiquitous web technologies.
There are plenty of examples that highlight these challenges but one recently highlighted during a conversation with a colleague at Razorfish. He talked about visiting a restaurant, wanting to by-pass the queue (and being curious about the app) he goes on to download the app, once discovered from searching for it on the app store he is required to install it then finally launching it – the application works well until it falls over just as he goes to order. Ignoring the last point and focusing on the experience, you can easily see why so many retail, restaurant, … apps fail given how many barriers are present before they can actually use it.
The experience proposed, based on the article, by Scott would go something like this: your device recognises that you’re at a restaurant, its asks a broker if an available application exists, if so then notify the user of its availability. If the user accepts the notification then download a light-weight app with functionality to improve the experience (without breaking).
Further extending this you could provide these light-weight apps personal information to help improve the experience (given you have granted permission) as well as record the experience to make your next times visit more seamless.
… Over the past few months I have been diving into research around intelligent Agents, the concept here is that these agents proactively perform tasks for you to levitate you from having to do them i.e. organise transport & travel, find alternative routes to work when issues are identified, find restaurants when appropriate, recommend gifts for your parents birthday, summarise details of people you are about to bump into, … similar to VPA (Virtual Personal Assistants) like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana.
The concept has been around for sometime but only recently becoming a reality thanks to powerful mobile devices, IOT’s, and Cloud computing.
What I’m proposing here (most likely been done before) is realising this idea of Just-in-time Interactions through the use of a Agent and Broker. The proposed (high-level) architecture will be proposed in the next post.