The end of Apps, next stop: context and information centered design

Apps like you would see on your iPhone, iPad and computer are not here to stay. They were however a necessary step to make to truly build a way to show, edit, make, share information in an optimal way.

Websites were made to show, make and share information. It’s seen as the transparent non platform to do stuff online with information. With the coming of mobile, the development of technologies and computing power went to slow to get an optimized way to share, make via websites on a mobile platform. That’s why App’s were the savior for mobile information, just like applications were on PC’s. Apps and applications are an optimized way to get right to the core of the business or information, be it either editing, viewing, sharing, consuming text, video, audio, social links or images.

Apps philosophy is inside out

The Apps philosophy is however inside out, the wrong way. An App works like a doorway to a real small set of information, or just one view on information with a tiny swiss army knife to do stuff with the information (share, edit, etc). Some developers made Apps with a combined set of actions like twitter. It can make photo’s and tweet them together with text and it does so in a very convenient way for certain contexts. But if you strip away the Apps from the actions and information, you are left with just that: actions and information.

“I’d like to call Robbert”, is one of the use cases of a phone. As it’s designed to make calls, you just have to select Robbert and press Call. With many other applications on the phone we now have to choose the tool and then select the piece of information we like to apply the tool on.

Information as the core

If we’d take the ‘call Robbert’- use case in a wider view, it makes more sense to select the subject first (Robbert) and then select what you’d like to do with it: “I’d like to contact Robbert”. There might be a bunch of ways to contact Robbert, but it’s Robbert I’d like to contact. In this case it makes more sense to logically present information like ‘contacts’ and select context driven tools to edit, share  and -in this case- interact with the information.

The Web-OS by Palm and more recently the Microsoft Metro interface are interesting ways to make a information centered interface. It gives you combined, aggregated and some times a curated information view on your social context, news and other information.

Context driven information actions

That thought of “I’m in this context, I need this information to do this for me” is the core of information centered operation. It’s basically: making it possible for information to be  made available in a fluent and transparent way, dependent on the context. The user can decide to either presented in a certain way, being edited, added, called whatever it needs by changing the context.


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