Some Features That All Modern Apps Must Have!

I scribble a lot of things in my notebooks and usually forget what I write and why I make some notations. There are times, though, when I add some context to these jottings. Earlier this week, I was cleaning my apartment and came across a notebook from circa 2011. I had scribbled a list of features that (at the time) I thought should be a part of every modern application.

During the summer of 2011 I had outlined the idea of an “alive web” in a series of posts for Gigaom: I called modern internet services the “alive web” mostly because I assumed our constant connectedness made everything near real time and that our interactions with these internet services would be real time as well. In a recent blog post, John Gruber pointed out that mobile and mobile devices are fast becoming a dominant way to get to the internet. So perhaps instead of using the term “alive web,” I should nickname them “alive apps.”

This is my list from 2011 as well as some current apps that do these things well.

  • Multi-screen: Netflix!
  • Streaming data: Spotify
  • Data efficient
  • Network smart
  • Mute enabled: FB Messenger with timed muting
  • Syncing across devices: Spotify, Plex
  • Read it later: You should be able to do something later or consume it in one go when you are reading. TiVo did this well: Save, watch it later and sync across devices.
  • Multimodal: The app can switch among read, write, receive and broadcast.
  • “Follow” model: The app allows you to follow meta data. For instance, on Netflix you can follow Kevin Whately or Brad Pitt and receive alerts about their next TV show or movie.
  • Hashtags: Older categories and tags are fairly pointless. Hashtags are a simpler and more real-time way to follow topics with conversational relevance.
  • Smart notifications. These should have embedded action-oriented objects.
  • Data-informed personalization. It should be based on sensor data inputs of the device and a person’s actual usage as well as include contextual intelligence provided by the collective data. (Spotify’s new recommendations do some of this.)

A friend suggests that Tweetbot, a Twitter app, hits all of these except the last point! If you know of any other apps that you think do these well, let me know. And if you have any additional observations, drop me a note or leave a comment on my Facebook page.

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