Given the abundance of games and entertainment apps, mobile apps might seem simplistic toys, but when used appropriately, they can be one of the strongest tech-tools we have today to make a difference in people’s lives.
Humans and computers are getting closer and closer
Humans have always relied on tools to help them live better and more efficient lives. And by using them, they became the dominant species on Earth. Computers, these bicycles for the mind, are one of the most important tools people have built so far, changing the world in so many ways. When looking at the evolution of these machines, there is an interesting trend of how computers and humans continuously get closer to each other, both physically and emotionally. And the closer we get to computers, the bigger impact they have on our lives.
Physically, we started with mainframes laying isolated in a room. These soon evolved into PCs on our desks. Now the dominance is quickly taken over by smartphones in our pockets, and we’re preparing for wearable computing – watches on our wrists or glasses in front of our eyes. From here on we’ll be just a step away from embedding computers in our skin, fully integrating them with our body.
Emotionally, in the early days we didn’t have any connection to computers that, back then, were operated by specialists. Then in the PC era we already had a personal computer that we occasionally shared with others. Now, in the post-PC era we have smartphones and other specialized devices that are truly personal and intimate.
Thus, man and his computer are more bound to one another than ever before. But there is certainly place for getting even closer through artificial intelligence and robots that we are already showing empathy for.
Today, smartphones and apps are the closest to us
In this context of ever-evolving computer technology, today we are in the smartphone era and will be for the next 5 years or so. This is already a reality. There are around one billion smartphones in the world today. In the next year or two, more than 2 billion people will also join in and get connected for the first time to the world. When everybody has a personal computer in his pocket that is connected to the internet, there are endless possibilities for improving people’s lives, one small bit (read. App) at a time.
So, while smartphones and the internet provide the technological base, the magic happens on a software level. Web software is already eating the world, but that’s probably small compared to the APPetite (pun intended) of mobile apps. We can already see examples of that, however, we are still at the beginning of this App-revolution, with the biggest innovations waiting just around the corner.
We hire apps for hundreds of mini-jobs we want to get done
So apps are already and will, at an even faster pace, eat the world for the next several years. They are a special kind of software that we have never seen before, a kind of software that is deeply interwoven and integrated in our lives. It’s a trusted tool in our pocket that we “hire” to get hundreds of these mini-jobs done in an easier and more convenient way.
We hire apps as a remote control to real life: we push a button and a taxi arrives within a few minutes, we push another button and soon we’ll have a pizza on the table. Furthermore, we also hire apps to recreate and connect: playing a game or checking the status of a friend on a social network, while waiting in line. We hire them to instantly share moments of our lives through a short text or a quick snap of a picture, or even as a personal trainer to help us with our exercise. The possibilities are endless… It is actually pretty hard to think about a part of our life that isn’t or couldn’t be improved, in one way or another, by the right app.
In contrast with the past, when using a computer needed some level of specialization, today’s mobile software is so much more intuitive, natural and easy-to-use, even to a toddler. The true art of a well designed app lies in its ability to simplify tasks by focusing on a single problem. Behind this simplicity is real technological complexity: complex cloud services and APIs that handle the heavy lifting. This way mobile apps make it possible for any smartphone owner, of different age and educational background, to benefit from near-infinite information and computational power that cloud services provide.
Apps change people >> they change everything
Apps will change nearly every aspect of our lives, and this has profound implications on the world around us. It will fundamentally change communities, companies and even whole industries. And this is happening right now. It will be exciting to watch how it will unfold during the upcoming years, how startup entrepreneurs, marketers, CIOs and everyone else wanting to make a difference in their space, will use mobile apps in creative ways to do so.