There’s much more to app support in iMessages than stickers and casual games, but to find out the significance of third party app support in Apple’s much-improved messaging platform, I spoke with Velocity Co-Founder/Co-CEO Zia Yusuf.
Velocity is a curated restaurant-booking app that lets you pick between curated selections of the world’s best restaurants.
The iMessages app lets you browse, share, discuss and book eating places with friends. If you share information about a location, recipients can explore images of the place, read chef backgrounds, check popular dishes and read reviews, all within the app.
The company chose to introduce an app because it saw it as, “a great way for us to engage new users and make the overall booking process a more seamless, personalized experience,” said Yusuf.
When Apple introduced app support at WWDC, Forrester analyst, Frank Gillet called it:
“A big deal, enabling Apple to offer a more natural fluid experience to customers that builds on chat innovations pioneered by WeChat and others.”
Power to the iPeople
That’s certainly part of what attracted Velocity. Support for apps within messaging removes another layer of friction from the relationship consumers have with their apps. How can this translate into real advantage to consumers?
“Messaging is a powerful tool for consumers and tech businesses,” said Yusuf. “Consumers have better conversations with apps that can enhance and create rich experiences without leaving the messaging window. For companies like us, these conversations are great for reaching new consumers…”
Critics of messaging apps may scoff that many of the services made available through them can be transacted equally well on Websites, but Yusuf doesn’t agree.
“Visiting a website requires an extra step for the consumer and does not allow them to share select content,” he said.
Yes, you can share page links and images, but doing so is far from friction free. “In order to send, they have to open their browser and screenshot the content they're looking for or copy and paste the Website link, then go back to Messages to send,” he explains.
“With iMessage applications, you can share the exact content you want without leaving the app."
A new platform
“WeChat has become a hub for all of these different services in Asia and that’s never happened here in the U.S,” JibJab CEO Spiridellis told Macworld, predicting Apple’s Messages platform will “become a hub for all sort of experiences.”
“Together, these tools will create a new computing interface that will change how we interact with each other, with our connected environment, and with brands,” Forrester Research analyst, Thomas Husson, noted last month.
“Voice and SMS will stop being features and simply become the interface augmenting messaging-platform-based mobile services. Text-based interactions on bots and voice-based interactions with intelligent agents will progressively merge, powering conversations as a new computing interface,” he wrote.
Looking further ahead, as Apple expands Siri and third party app support within its messaging platform then it’s easy to conceive of using these tools with no visual interaction at all.
And, of course, Apple’s predictive intelligence AI will eventually become capable of recognizing when you are likely to want to book a table, figuring out your preferences and offering up suggested venues before you realize you needed them.
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