Bringing the App To You

I have been thinking about a fundamental shift that is starting to occur in the world of software. Instead of you going to the application, the application is starting to come to you.

In the old days, when I wanted to send an email or create a document or calculate in a spreadsheet, you would go to some sort of launch screen, find the application you want to use, launch it and get to work.

It seems in the last few years this is fundamentally changing. It started for me in 2006 when we started working on the BlackBerry. If I created a web link within powerOne, such as how all the help is integrated, it would seamlessly launch the browser and display the content. A simple hit on the back button would bring you back to exactly where you were in powerOne.

But this isn’t really new. You could always do this with email and the Office suite was always linked together, and apps like the old “Works” systems had similar features. Even other apps had an “email” link in them that would launch the email client and automatically create a new address. Internet Explorer and Firefox have always done this.

Given that it was the seamless nature of how this capability worked on the BlackBerry that made me take notice. There was no splash screen, no visible change in app at all, that made this situation unique and started opening my eyes to the possibility]ies.

And as we have progressed through the last few years I am seeing more and more examples. Facebook and Google+ can now seamlessly access my contacts and look for people I know. iPhoto can send pictures to Facebook. The on-device video app can send created content to YouTube. Almost every smartphone and tablet news app makes it seamless to Facebook, Tweet, and email, among other options, a story. iOS 5 will have Twitter integration available to any app that wants it.

To me, though, this is just the start. What happens when all of your apps are integrated seamlessly across the web and device? What happens when you don’t have to deal with files but instead can just say “I want this memory [or comment or post or article or note or contact] over here.”

I don’t hear as much talk of this idea but think the idea of bring the app to you will be a significant driver of innovation on the web and mobile devices as we move forward. So developers… how does your app do this?