Are We on the Brink of a Post-App Era?

Users are looking for solutions that don’t lock them into one app.

Since the development of apps on mobile devices, they have been the default choice for most users when doing just about anything on their phone. However, this is starting to change, and users are looking for solutions that don’t lock them into one app.

Are we on the brink of a post-app era? Or is the market too tightly controlled for that?

One of the big developments in the field is the replacement or significant modification of the operating systems on phones. Cyanogen Inc. is the developer behind CyanogenMod, an open-source operating system for smartphones and tablet computers, based on the Android mobile platform.

During a demo of their new project called MOD with ReadWrite contributing writer Cate Lawrence, the Cyanogen team explained that the goal is total integration between services, without the use of apps:

With mods, barriers to deeper integration are removed and developers can now unleash the full potential of their applications across the OS.  Users can conveniently access their workout playlist with voice-activation, schedule a ride-sharing service from within their calendar, and make a video conference call from their contacts list. The system will even nudge users to install the perfect mod to help you complete the task at hand.

The system integrates services, such as Skype and the native phone call app, to avoid the necessity to leave either tool to access the other. Lawrence opined that the technology could shift the mobile market entirely:

I suspect they might have just created the norm of the future.

While there is an argument that users download apps at high rates because they prefer native app experiences, users also stop using apps if they don’t meet their standards, which ultimately leads to high turnover. Users are downloading apps in the hope of a solution, and upon not finding one, they may stop using the service entirely.

Users are diligent in searching for these solutions, and their search can have a big impact on the market. In many ways, services like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are replacing texting, and VoIP services could be pushing native calling out.

A lack of access could also start driving users away from apps. Top down solutions like the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store concentrate exposure and downloads among a small portion of providers, and smaller developers are unable to compete.

Open source solutions like MOD could be a solution to this problem and could provide much deeper service integration on mobile devices. Deep links have been heralded as the solution to cross app connectivity but soon the point may be moot. If the market trends towards open source solutions, apps could become obsolete as better solutions present themselves.