San Francisco, CA – As a designer I tend to spend quite a bit of time on sites like Dribbble and ProductHunt looking for the next trend in design, and often losing track of time going down some rabbit hole on the internet in search of who created what and why.
Recently on one of these trips down the rabbit hole I noticed that there is a large number of apps and products out there that don’t have a User Interface. These apps are entirely focused on messaging and relying on AI to complete tasks. Tools and apps are starting to behave as a virtual personal assistant and are using text messaging as the method of communication. A notable example is the money saving tool, Digit. We’ve written about Digit in our recent Consumer Trends Report, so you may already be aware of this one and how it works. The function of the tool itself is basically a passive way to help people save money. For me the more intriguing part is that the majority of your relationship with the tool is through text messages focused on giving you “attaboys” and letting you know how you are doing.
Facebook seems to be taking this trend a step further with it’s new personal assistant tool called M, which they are testing in the Bay Area right now. M sounds a bit like Siri or Google Now, but is connected to your Facebook Messenger app and uses the things that Facebook knows about you to complete tasks. The fulfillment of tasks like shopping or delivery is being handled by humans where necessary, but as the AI catches up I can see those types of tasks being completed by the device itself. The common thread and in these tools is the lack of an unique and dedicated interface. These tools are just borrowing interfaces from what people are already using. As the AI of these tools gets better and better, are we moving toward a future where we might not need anything, but a messaging app and the internet to get all of our errands done.