Virtual assistants to nudge out mobile apps?

by CXOtoday News Desk    Feb 08, 2013

Mobile Apps
A virtual assistant via Siri and Google Now could potentially elbow out the use of mobile apps in the near future. With their strong usability and high applicability, it is almost a certainty, feels Tom Simonite, IT editor of MIT Technology review.

In his recent column on applications on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, Simonite observes that Siri is a general purpose tool to achieve just about anything and that Google Now’s development have similar ideas. “Virtual helpers conceived along those lines could transform how people get stuff done with a smartphone, and remove the need for them to interact with the apps and websites they must turn to today,” he says.

He further explains that Apple and Google’s operating systems are platforms and achieving something involves a collection of apps, and often the Web, that users customize. “The operating system just makes it possible to go to the places you need to go. If Apple and Google make their virtual assistants work, that could be replaced by a much more centralized approach. Want something? Ask Siri or Google Now and they’ll do the work of dealing with all those Web pages and apps for you,” he says.

The era of apps being the main thing about mobile devices is ending. Apple and Google turned to app developers and promoted what they came up with because smartphones needed flashy features to appear worth buying. But people get a smoother experience if they can avoid having to think about apps, and Apple and Google get to be more intimate with their users. Data is valuable in itself, and if it becomes possible to buy things through Siri or Google Now there could be transaction fees to collect. If Google Now becomes more powerful it could be a useful way to discourage manufacturers from just taking the parts of the Android operating system not reliant on and branded by Google. Leaving it out would be removing the easiest way for people to use their phone, he avers.

But the downside is virtual assistants like Siri is not up to par to completely nudge out apps as its voice recognition and ability to understand different phrasings isn’t always reliable so is with Google Now’s voice commands. “But both Apple and Google have signalled that they see their virtual assistants as significant projects to the future of their mobile devices and software. We can expect much more from Siri and Google Now, and perhaps to see less of our apps,” opines Simonite.