Cards: Breaking Free from the App

March 3, 2015 8:33 pm

Nova Spivak at Tech Crunch wrote a super article that is also featured on the OpenStand Blog  about the future of experience design for mobile and the need for standards in Card-based design.   For those of you who don’t know what Cards are — it’s basically building off streams technology like ATOM and RSS — to incorporate app related streams into the OS of your mobile phone, rather than containing them within the app itself.

In short, the days of a million app icons on your desktop may be replaced with a very different sort of interface.  One that seamlessly integrates with the notifications on your phone in a manner that doesn’t necessarily require you to visit the app.

How different will the experience be?

Paul Adams wrote a terrific article called, “The End of Apps As We Know Them” explaining how Cards may change everything.   In his article, Paul asserts that developers and designers are going to have to make a shift from the narrow view of app design to a broader view of the total app experience across platforms, or “apps as a service.” Adams argues that the quality of that service, as executed through Cards across multiple platforms will dictate an app’s success or failure.  Further, as people break from the app — the usefulness of the service will dictate their propensity to return and maintain a loyal customer.

Tech Crunch points to the Cambrian explosion of Cards and the proliferation of emerging, non-standardized development protocols for Cards.  This results in Cards that do not communicate or interoperate.  There’s not only a host of independent, open source developers are busy in the development of Cards…. Apple, Twitter, Google, Microsoft  are just  a few of the competing organizations developing Cards.   This competition inhibits the opening of the proprietary kimono in the name of open standards.

Spivak calls for open standards for Cards that will drive interoperability, content distribution and marketing, search, personalization and recommendations. However, history teaches us that market response may be slower than desired.  We’re more likely to see consortia develop over time, with collaboration and consensus building and even commons emerge, where it is mutually beneficial to all parties.   In due time, we’ll begin to see consolidation, clustering and best practices emerge for Cards – and this will likely lead to new standards.

This is exactly what we’re seeing for API development.

So, fasten your seatbelt!  It’s bound to be a bumpy ride.   Without question, the impact of Cards is an absolutely critical thing for mobile developers and designers to understand.  Cards may well be the next great frontier for exploration and innovative development for mobile designers, developers and experience architects.





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