8 minute read
Smartphones are changing the way we interact with one another. Messages become shorter but more operational. Messaging apps offer phone and video calls, as well as shopping features on the side with the primary service. Users desire to have more personalized solutions delivering their emotions and health condition along with the text. Moreover, nowadays messaging apps are a preferred medium not only for personal matters but also for businesses. Why would one need to install many different programs, when apps are evolving into all-in-one solutions?
Messaging is the most used form of communication. In his report about smartphone usage in the USA, Aaron Smith writes: “Fully 97% of smartphone owners used text messaging at least once over the course of the study period, making it the most widely-used basic feature or app”. The report dates from 2015, but consumer habits are still the same today. The trend in the short text communication is growing rapidly and creating new possibilities for companies to improve the service platforms.
Texting is not a particularly personal way to communicate, but new trends trigger technological innovations to personalize the experience for users. Online conversational apps and chats have already enabled a possibility to share different types of content. The evolution of iMessage is only one of the examples. Now the user can send handwritten messages and a heartbeat, which allows them to express emotions and feelings on distance, through a screen. Ordering table using the message is in operation as well. More innovations are yet to come enabling screenless communication with a human touch. However, a rising number of features should be kept simple, so user experience stays clear and straight forward. Already today, Apple users complain about the complexity of the services and need to check youtube for usage hints.
There seems to be a need to simplify the interaction between the customer and the company. According to Ubisend 2016 mobile messaging report, about 50% of the survey’s respondents preferred to talk to businesses through applications over phone calls. Forget about slow communication channels! The interaction using phone applications increase the speed of value exchange between customers and the firm. According to Facebook data, every month people exchange over 1 billion messages with businesses and organizations. Facebook, Whatsapp, WeChat and other social media are reinventing themselves as a platform for businesses and developers. In the future, it is even possible to convert digital assistants, like Siri, to a medium between humans and the service providers. This way, the customer-company interaction will be improved, since the assistant can handle most of the queries coming to the company. The Internet of Things is when technology performs the best decision-making process for the benefit of the user.
Another take on the personalization of interaction can be seen in the development of chatbots. Its main advantage is a unique touch to every customer without the involvement of a human connector, by using artificially intelligent bots. BusinessInsider report shows that nearly 80% of companies have already used or planned to use chatbots by 2020. Moreover, Chatbots are projected to save up to $23 billion savings annually replacing 29% of customer representatives. In the end of 2016, Microsoft Corporation launched its newest AI chatbot, Zo. At the same time Google and Apple, which puts all tech giants on board, are working on a messaging app with artificial intelligence.
Beerud Sheth, CEO of messaging service Gupshup, thinks chatbots will be the next big thing. “Previously you had websites, then we had apps, and now there’s going to be bots”, he says. “Developers are going to shift from making apps to making bots. About once every decade in the history of the tech industry, we’ve had these paradigm shifts”.
One of the greatest examples of messaging app evolution and use of chatbots is Chinese WeChat. It is accounting for 768 million daily active users. WeChat has a chatbot named Cara that acts like a friend and personal assistant. She makes communication light and easy with funny texts and flirty audio clips. There are also additional services like receiving gifts and presents from Cara. Moreover, the app is a platform for businesses and works as a payment system as well. WeChat fully penetrates in the life of its users. For instance, their latest development WeRun helps customers to stay fit. Global tech[nbsp]giants are at the moment trying to offer similar user experience in the western countries. Who will succeed in becoming American and European WeChat?
Google lens to
adding vision to your phone
When the features of the phone are getting overcomplicated, one may want the phone to help using all the additional benefits. For instance, Google is innovating with Google Lens and marrying AI assistance to it. Now, not only you can text with the gadget but the assistant will recognize the visuals around you and offer the choices user might want to take in a predictive manner. Allowing the Google Lens to see what people see and provide simultaneous information about the objects, its features,[nbsp]characteristics, and, in future, personal compatibility, will transform the experience of the interaction with the phone. Later, once humanity is ready, all of those operations will be available on Google Glass, or, even, Google retina.
Texting as a
main form of interaction
inside the company
The messaging apps have not just changed the ways consumers interact, also the business world experiences great changes in the field. Naturally, interaction should be as simple and effective as possible when it comes to businesses as well. Since most people prefer texting, it is not hard to understand why programs like Slack have gained popularity. Slack, an app focused on internal business interaction, has completely altered the way co-workers keep themselves updated. Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of the company, is determined to end the constant internal mailing, allowing employees to focus on their direct responsibilities instead of dealing with a pile of letters. Slack offers a solution for co-workers to perform the team work and projects in the most efficient way. Scheduling meetings, holding conferences, exchanging files, almost all operational tasks are enabled on one platform. The program is remarkably popular, with 4 million daily active users in October 2016, a number which is still increasing.
Slack is also getting ready to face new challenges in the field. According to Fast Company, it is now possible to make video calls within the app. Slack has also “made the platform more interactive, allowing users to browse flights, approve budgets, and evaluate job candidates”. It looks like the concept of one app for all business interaction is getting faster and moving to different areas of business as well. The app allows businesses to focus on increasing their sales instead of trying to find the correct piece of information in a web of different communication channels. The future of Slack is to keep improving till becoming a universal project managing digital assistant.
A demand for
When messaging apps are getting new functions, the increased usage can cause security issues. Consumers are getting more aware that their communications are not as private as they may seem. The constant surveillance of civilians has created a market for messenger apps with enhanced privacy. For instance, Signal, is an app that allows its users to send encrypted texts and photos. Moxie Marlinspike, co-founder of Open Whisper Systems, the company behind Signal, affirms that phone calls too can be made from the app. “You can also make secure voice calls over a data network. Each person is shown a random pair of words that they can use to verify the call is secure”, he says. The demand for the app grew by 400% after the presidential election in the US.
Political instability seems to be a common trigger in the success story of encrypted messaging apps. There are plans to relaunch the app Secret, which shut down in 2015 after the app was misused for bullying. Its founder, David Byttow, decided to take up the development of the app after Trump was elected as the president of the United States. He states that citizens must have the possibility to freely speak their minds, and it is harder to do so without anonymity.
The downside of apps like Signal and Secret is that they can be used with criminal intent. In such cases, the companies’ philosophy for unattended communication between civilians, can prevent the course of justice. Marlinspike is sure offenders will access encryption tools even if Signal was not available. Protecting the right to privacy includes everyone, for better or worse.