Service as a message

Today smartphones have proliferated in use across the world. Along with them, there has been an explosion in the number of apps that are developed for smartphones. Each of these apps performs a specific function. Getting directions, booking movies, deciding where to eat out, editing photos etc. Because most of these apps perform one (or few) targeted functions, users normally have quite a few installed on their mobiles at any point of time. This can lead to a lot of clutter and space utilisation on their phones. Although storage is getting cheaper day by day, having a lot of apps also results in them asking for unnecessary permissions. This poses a security threat as well as a battery drain, what with every app running in the background now and then to try and reach the mother ship.

Elsewhere on the blog, I had written about how disposable apps could be one way to reduce the clutter on the mobile phone. I talked about how single-use mobile apps could be downloaded, used and automatically deleted once the user is done with it. This would ensure that users get the UI/UX of a mobile app while keeping their mobile free of clutter. You could think of this as Rent-An-App model. Of course, there are two prerequisites for that. One, such apps need to be small in size. Second, Internet speeds need to be fast enough. However app developers would not like the flexibility that this model gives the user. Any point in time, their app could be replaced by other apps that are giving better deals at that time.

But there is yet another way to reduce the clutter on the mobile phone where an average an app is used occasionally. And there is one obvious medium that can take care of this seamlessly. Which category of apps does the average smartphone use the most? For 8 out of 10 users, it has got to be messaging. Although traditionally the messaging apps have been used purely for that, lately some messaging apps have expanded their scope to include various other services – hail a cab for example, or order in at restaurants, or even shop online. Amazon had long ago introduced ordering through Twitter. But private messaging apps seem to be more preferable in terms of ordering more personal stuff online. This integration of messaging apps and various services can be called SAAM (Service as a message). In various messaging apps, this is possible currently through bots, that can perform basic functions.

It is a highly potent concept, still in its infancy. There are lots of issues to take care of – good enough natural language recognition, payment methods, etc. But this is something that can be resolved rapidly in the near future. After all, the newer generations are going to be more and more addicted to smartphones, and even more on messaging apps.

Who knows, in the future you may just be type in the following in your favourite messaging app. “Book me two movie tickets for tonight at the nearest theatre for that new movie starring Ryan Reynolds, and an Uber to pick us up.”

Or better still, use Siri to speak to it.

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