The app is dead: how to think about the future of apps

Brett Thornton
By Brett Thornton under Insights 28 August 2015

Given the name on our logo, it might seem a bit obvious to point out that since we opened our doors, our story has been intertwined with that of the mobile application. Well, that might be true but the history of the app is a fascinating one - and its changing fast.

At both Google IO and Apple’s WWDC this year, important developments were afoot: from updates to Google Now to the introduction of Apple’s ‘Proactive’ strategy and the utilisation of Universal Links in iOS9 (catch up on our iOS9 pre-release briefing for more info on these). What these services highlight is how fast our definition of what an app is - and how we interact with it - is evolving.

In 2008, apps mainly sat in an isolated silo on your device and were, dare we say it, pretty gimmicky. Today, apps and the services they provide are reshaping the world. They play an increasingly crucial role in our lives and represent billions of pounds of revenue for businesses new and old. An important aspect of the app’s success in recent years has been its escape from the shackles of that little rounded square icon sat on your device. The silos have been shattered, and the app of 2008 is long dead.

In its place is the evolving idea of apps as fully-formed, integrated services. Services which, while still mostly run from the supercomputer in your pocket, have grown tentacles. They are appearing at light speed in a multitude of new ways, and interacting with many other interfaces, devices and services.

We’ve been thinking a lot about this change at TAB, and what it means for our good friend ‘the app’. The app of 2015 plays a very different role in user’s lives to that of 2008. As a result, expectations of the app you might want to create, or currently be managing, have changed dramatically. Here’s a high level look at how we think about that change at TAB.