In their early days, mobile apps were essentially extensions of computer programs designed to fit in the palm of your hand. Now, with technology evolving at an ever-increasing pace, we’re seeing a whole new generation of mobile apps that are changing the way people interact with the world at large. Rather than just porting computerized functions to mobile devices, these product-integrated apps are forging a new means of controlling home appliances, tech tools, house alarms, and more. So how is this integration changing the way we live our lives? Here’s what you need to know.
App Integration: A New Point of Differentiation for Everyday Products
From a business standpoint, app integration is a game-changer. The idea of integrating physical products with an app interface is mostly about convenience, but also about control – two things that consumers want. And the better a business can be at providing that control and convenience, the more it will stand out in the market. App integration is a strong differentiation point that can separate competitors in any market.
With the Sonos app, for instance, users can control their home audio system from their mobile device – and even schedule certain songs to play at certain times of day. Sonos users can use songs as wake-up alarms, reminders, or even lullabies when they go to bed. With such powerful capabilities, these apps are pushing the very boundaries of what we thought possible in product integration – and teaching us to use products in whole new ways.
Integrating Apps with Home Products is Building Toward True Smart Homes
One particular arena where apps are revolutionizing the consumer experience is in consumers’ own homes. There’s no shortage of home-integrated apps that can make users’ lives more convenient, and users are adopting these apps in record numbers. The Canary home security system comes standard with a free app, allowing users to track motion, temperature, sound, and even air quality – all from a smartphone. Even national media companies are seeing the value of these apps – the Rogers Smart Home Monitoring system, for example, offers real-time home monitoring through a convenient mobile app. Users can even adjust their home’s thermostat or turn the lights on and off through the mobile app, even if they’re not at home. Soon, we should expect to be able to control nearly every aspect of the home through a mobile app. Forget to turn on the dishwasher before leaving for work? There’ll be an app for that. Need to preheat the oven before you get home? There’ll be an app for that, too. Soon, you’ll be able to operate nearly every appliance in your home without needing to be in the house.
More Apps Means More Data Means More Personalization
One of the great advances that mobile apps brought is the ability to track usage and create data patterns. Mobile apps have gathered scores of data since they first came into mainstream use, which has allowed companies to make products more effective and easier to use. With apps now being integrated into products, tracking usage data means manufacturers will have even more data. Better yet, it’ll be more reliable data about phenomena that were previously difficult to measure. How can you measure how someone uses a product? In days gone by, companies had to rely on self-report data from focus groups. But with products that offer app integration, companies will have more access to more data than ever before.
So why is this access to data important?
First, it allows companies to determine how well they are meeting customers’ current needs. For instance, with an app like VNC – which allows users to access and use their home computer via their smartphone – companies can determine things like how many errors a user encounters, what kinds of functions the user is trying to perform, and how long it takes to get the job done. With all of this new data, companies will be in a much better position to evaluate their products from an objective standpoint.
Secondly, it allows companies to spot patterns and then create products and services to address likely future needs. With app integration in products, companies can determine how consumers are making use of those products and make suggestions for other products that might help. For instance, with an app like onOne – a companion app for Canon and Nikon cameras that allows users to control said cameras remotely – companies can, in theory, track the kinds of photos that users are taking. Then, if a user tends to be taking a number of landscape shots in poor lighting, the company can offer new solutions for improving the camera’s flash for outdoor situations – or give the consumer personalized how-to information to help the user make better use of the product.
Can Smartphone Apps Keep Up? Technological Considerations of the New App-as-Experience World
App-enabled products offer a lot of promising new avenues for providing features and services that didn’t previously exist. However, as these products continue to evolve and become even more integrated with apps, we’re going to see an increasingly diverse array of new and unexpected functionalities. Product-app integration is a completely new stage of evolution in app development, and it’s not entirely clear what that means for the field. Exactly how are these products going to be integrated? What extra functions will emerge? What’s the best way to manage those functions? Companies that enter the app-enabled product space will need to adjust quickly to feedback and offer new features as they are needed in order to provide a great customer experience.
App-enabled products are only in their infancy, and already we’re seeing some rather incredible developments in the field. There’s no telling what new app might change the way we interact with the world around us. It’s not that we’ve never had refrigerators or lighting or televisions, but rather, this emerging trend is changing what it means to use those appliances. No matter what the future holds, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: The role of the app is going to change in a big way.