A few years ago, most users, like myself, used to try and install all kinds of apps. This trend pushed smartphone’s storage capacity to the extreme, since it wasn’t possible to install and store a big number of apps. Today, the usage paradigm when it comes to mobile technology has changed – my concern now is to only have apps that I really need, in order to save storage for videos and photos.
This shift in the behavior can be explained by several factors and constraints. Take my case, for example: with the new system that I now use, I came to the conclusion that it is not necessary to install apps for basic things like the daily weather, for instance. The operating system itself provides the information that I’m looking for, when it thinks it is relevant. The submission of useful information can be seen in several areas, such as the traffic, public transportations, health and so many others, proving the evolution of the operating systems and its ability to interpret our behavior and needs.
According to engineer Donny Reynolds, the big app supply and the resulting market saturation have transformed our smartphone’s screen into a precious and highly competitive space, leading users to feel some reluctance when downloading a new app. The solution lies on app streaming – something that both Google and Apple are already testing. This technology will eliminate downloads and the use of hyperlinks, taking the users to the interface that they wish to use in that moment.
What does app streaming mean for the users?
Almost as inevitable as innovation is the resistance by companies to adapt to new technologies – a lot of them don’t want to discontinue or restructure an app that has already proven its worth in the mobile market. Instead, they choose to launch apps that complement their already established mobile applications. Some examples are Foursquare and Swarm or Facebook and Messenger.
This decentralization of platforms forces users to constantly change between apps, which is one of the main reasons why I stopped using some apps. For users like me, who like simple and direct access to mobile technology, having to alternate between apps and to do several installations, updates and other time-consuming processes is more than enough to never even try certain apps.
Obviously, if an app has features that are important to my mobile experience, I won’t stop using it. And, from a business point of view, in some cases, increasing the range of apps makes sense, since it will allow the company to reach more users and increase their profit, through different platforms with different purposes.
For us, Designers
I believe our challenge as designers will be even more focused in the user experience and all the issues regarding the engagement between the user and the integrated operating system. I think there will be room for creativity – when it comes to navigation, it will be somewhat restricted but it will always exist, especially because, the more companies work to build unique mobile experiences, the more innovative this market will be.
App streaming may be the future of mobile platform distribution, something that will certainly strengthen companies’ focus in creating different apps, through design creativity, among others aspects.
There is no doubt in my mind that users will be the ones winning with a new era of no installations, if it actually happens. And I believe it will.