A Conversation about Apps

I wrote this, literally, last year, and never published it.  Sorry it’s so late.

It started with a tweet from a friend (Siri can access Best Buy’s product catalog thru Wolfram Alpha), which encouraged me quite a bit after reading this downer (“Siri Is Apple’s Broken Promise“).

As is my wont, I responded, “I see this happening more and more (call it “app hyper linking”); I’m doing it more and more. Kids today will think no more of –”  And also, an example (Siri and Watson, or Cyc [or, now that I think of it, Wikipedia!]).

But I’m not sure Mark got that I only used Kinect as one “fer instance.”

Or maybe he did, and linked to another thought.  Then more:

“Trick is to figure out a way to get synergy from hi-res display, simultaneous site/app access and standard api for data exchange”

“I think we understand data interactions pretty well. The next breakthrough requires increased density and scale of visualization…”

I didn’t realize the full import of what that meant till now; I replied in a different direction.  Since we were talking (initially) about Siri, and I still think there’s some future to voice UI.

Then Mark added more, different thoughts (for him, the main UI of the most interesting UI of ‘the future’ is Kinect).

But I got stuck on the data thing.  Was I wrong?  I added a ref. to a story I never fully read, until now.  Here’s the conclusion from that article:

The field of astronomy is starting to generate more data than can be managed, served and processed by current techniques. This paper has outlined practices for developing next-generation tools and techniques for surviving this data tsunami, including rigorous evaluation of new technologies, partnerships between astronomers and computer scientists, and training of scientists in high-end software engineering engineering skills.

But back to what we were saying… what were we saying?

I started on the subject of “app-linking.”  The best example I have, simple though it be, is a link in my (work) e-mail to a WebEx.  From the mail app, I click the link, which switches to Safari, which somehow recognizes this is not a normal web page and launches the WebEx app.  People have complained of the lack of integration in Siri (I expect more from Apple in the months and years to come).  I remember the first time I had a full multi-OS/multi-platform experience: an old Mac iBook, running Linux, running VMWare, connected to a Windows virtual machine (it looked like Windows, felt like Linux, and had the shell of Apple).  I think this type of cross-ness will only increase, to the point where kids today won’t give a hoot (most of the time) about what “platform” their on.  Except maybe the specs of the display — and then only to figure out how to configure three “monitors” (including a wall-projector and/or a multi-panel configured LCD), and a wireless mic/headset to a back-room server of ginormous proportions [running Windows, Mac and Linux respectively] — and “apps” running in the monitor itself, communicating flawlessly with “traditional” applications, and data-manipulating back-ends software I haven’t even thought of, yet.

Our other main tangent was UIs — I like voice, Mark favors Kinect.  I think the computer from Star Trek is not that far away; but gesture-based interaction is coming nearer, too.


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