The arrival of invisible apps (part 2) | The Reference

Admit it, we are slaves of our screens. Some of us call it the screen generation and they are correct. But how intelligent are and become these screens? 


Create systems, not destinations

To offer personalized experiences, that are context-related and applicable on every touch point in an optimized way, we have to create systems instead of destinations.

A system is perceived as a set of elements that influence each other and form an integrated whole.

Facebook is an example of a system. It exists of posts that are consulted in newsfeeds, timelines and pages. It are all connected elements (molecules) that are related to each other. They can be split up and re-assembled in different ways to create something new. They can also change each other.

By working in systems, we can develop for the future. A system is everywhere present, on all your screens and soon on all your connect devices. The molecules of a system appear in different formats: video, text, audio, spoken dialogues, push notifications, chat messages, interactive cards, …

Lately it is especially the card form that comes forward. Google Now is the best known example. In that tool, you see molecules of different systems come together to form one different system. The molecules are independent but related to each other. They have one thing in common: each card is personalized. Together it is a very dynamic and personalized experience for the end-user. Apple made it a bit more subtle, they are talking about a Proactive Assistant.

The era of the Invisible apps and the virtual assitants will come sooner than you think!

There is no better proof than the recent Google IO-event: new developments of today are the foundation for the future.

  1. You should not be searching for apps and install them before using them.
    Google is aware of the disadvantages of app installs and has been working lately on maintaining the power/strengths of native applications with a minimal threshold for the end-user. That is why they announced the Android Instant Apps on the Google IO-event. These apps will be “streamed” to your smartphone without downloading or installing them. It is very interesting for apps you only sporadically use for one specific purpose. In fact this is nothing new under de sun: it is how the World Wide Web is behaving since day one. But today it is a more personalized experience, as streamed apps are enriched with a lot of contextual data available from other applications such as profile information, payment systems, … It won’t be for tomorrow when this streaming apps technology is on point and all existing applications are adapted, but the end of downloading mobile applications is near!

  2. Assistants understand their supervisors so they can proactively provide the correct answers.
    Until today we had Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Now. However they are not particularly smart, they fall back on standardized programmed answers exhausted from a limited number of content sources.
    Often there is not drawn a link between sequentially asked questions in a conversation with these digital assistants. The original founders of Siri introduced the much smarter Viv, with the ability to better understand context based on previous questions and to gain knowledge from several other sources. The main condition is these sources to have an API. Google took the first step in really getting to know the end-user with the recently announced Google Assistant. By means of machine learning and special Artificial Intelligence chips, they collect your existing personal data to determine the context as good as possible. It is over with the manual IFTTT (If This Than That) recipes, from today, Google does that for you.

  3. Assistants converse with you on a natural human way.

    Chatting and talking are the simplest ways of conversing and virtual assistants definitely respond to that. Facebook chatbots arriving in Messenger and Whatsapp are a good example. Isolated applications are replaced by integrated chatbots that try to provide correct proactive answers based on the used words and tone-of-voice in the chat.
    Voice-recognition and digital speech synthesis in order provide to vocal responses gets better every day. Assistants often get their own character and humor, to make it even more human. Voice is the most important way of conversing with virtual assistants. That is how people not only talk to other people, but to devices as well.

  4. Assistants are always there and everywhere.
    We already knew Amazon Echo and today there is also Google Home that contains the Google Assistant. A wireless speaker on a central spot in your living room. It is not since yesterday that Google wanted to do more than indexing and analyzing your searches from your PC or smartphone. Via Chromecast and the Nest thermostat, they also want to know what you are doing when you are not behind a screen. The Google Home device is an IOT (Internet of Things) hub as well and can interact with other hardware such as your lighting, heating,… so that from now on, you can control everything right from your lazy chair.


As you may notice, we are in the middle of a new digital revolution that gives the Internet a human face. It is no longer only available on screens, the Internet is nesting everywhere. We won’t have to learn how to search with keywords or how an application works, to find clear answers. No, we will receive the most relevant answer before we have even asked it. And if not, you just ask it, in natural human language. The internet will think with you and for you, enriched with information from a thousand sources. It will become a personal assistant (PDA) that has been knowing you for years and that analyses thoroughly everything you do, just to know you even better.

We will not have to learn the interface, because we are going to be the interface. Are you ready for that?


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