Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
Square and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said the future of apps lies in a future where apps “fade into the background.“They are apps that you don’t even realise you’re using most of the time.
They handle all of your payments without making you take out your wallet.
They manage your personal connections without forcing you to jot down a phone number.
They are apps that, literally, bring us further from technology than we are today. It’s a future we probably can’t even comprehend yet.
Still, we’ll take a crack at it.
Facebook already has a terrible signal-to-noise ratio. But eventually we'll have so many connections to other people in the world that there will be too much noise to handle.
There has to be an app that filters out the most important connections, and updates from them, into a single stream.
Path has some of the best and most succinct notifications of any app out there, and it's great for keeping track of people that are close to you. It's currently the first option -- and will probably stay that way for a while.
An oft-overlooked but killer feature of Facebook is its capability to be a single sign-on for your entire life. Pretty much every app today uses Facebook connectivity in some way.
Facebook will be a key that unlocks all of your apps and connects you to the rest of the universe -- including friends, co-workers and even businesses.
Facebook won't serve as a discovery engine for a potential partner (or hook-up) yet, though. That carries some weird connotations that Mark Zuckerberg might not be ready to incorporate.
But eventually a dating app like Skout, which serves as a pretty effective way of discovering and chatting with potential partners, will be so ubiquitous on Facebook that it will just make sense to buy it.
Facebook will serve as a nerve centre for managing your relevant people -- including dating.
MobileMe and Google Drive are both attempting to do something Dropbox started doing years ago -- having a centralized storage space where you can access anything.
Eventually, it won't be just files -- we'll reach a point where you can access the web anywhere, and you can even access apps and programs from a service.
Dropbox got here first, and it's screaming fast, so we'll go ahead and call them the leader right now.
Right now, you still have to swipe a credit card to make a payment.
In the next five years, that won't even be necessary. Square has already released Pay With Square, which lets you pay for goods or services using a mix of location-based services and transaction software.
There will be competitors, but Square was here first, and it's one of the more elegant solutions right now.
Microsoft beat Apple to the punch with a super-cheap Xbox 360 -- that includes a subscription with access to premium content like movies and music.
It's powered by motion controls and your voice. You don't even realise you're using what, at one point, was a console geared toward video games.
Eventually that will branch beyond just your TV, and will connect with all your relevant devices. And they'll all be controlled by voice and motion controls.
When you need to get from point A to point B, there will be a startup that automatically decides what's the most efficient course of action -- car, train, plane or, we hope, teleportation.
Right now, Getaround is on track to do just that. It's starting with car-sharing, but Getaround aims to revolutionise the way we literally get from point A to point B.
Spotify recently debuted a 'play' button that lets you plug links to songs into just about any website.
It still requires you to run the Spotify app in the background, but eventually you won't even have to do that.
A startup will have a music player that's so deeply integrated with whatever your operating system is that you won't even have to manage your music -- it will always play what you need, when you need it.
Right now, Spotify is on track to do just that.
Imagine getting news about world events and conflicts that's relevant to you seconds after it actually happens.
Right now, Twitter is the best delivery mechanism for that, but it's still facing some problems with Discovery. Eventually, though, a startup will lock down an algorithm that delivers the perfect information to you with the shortest delay.
Twitter just happens to be the startup that's throwing most of its resources at that problem, Twitter will probably solve it first.
As you walk through New York City, or San Francisco, or any other city, your phone will buzz when you pass a point of interest.
You'll get a notification that reads something like, 'this place is amazing, you have to check it out.'
Foursquare is probably the best location-based application now, but in the future, it'll go even beyond local recommendations -- an app will know exactly where you should go to satisfy whatever needs you have right now.
Foursquare just happens to have the jump on most other location-based apps. Hopefully it'll have some kind of deal component to it in the future, too (hint, hint, Groupon).
Whether you're in a restaurant, walking around or sitting on a computer, there will be a startup that knows exactly the right kind of food that will hit the sweet spot.
You'll whip out your phone (or tablet) and after a few swipes, it'll be on its way. Five minutes later, you'll have that chocolate Sunday you're fiercely craving.
Seamless already does that for the most part, but it'll be even more efficient in the future.
While all of these apps fade into the background, there will still be a choice left to make for the users -- how do you want to log into all these apps.
In the end, there'll probably be a few ways. The iPhone, or Android. Facebook, or Google. While most users will never actually heavily interact with these apps the way we do today, the biggest connection point will come with the web that connects them all together.
Not that it's a bad thing -- choice is usually good.