Is cross-industry integration the future of mobile apps?

Since Apple launched its app store in 2008, the way we interact with our favourite brands and services has never been the same. That everyday phrase – 'there’s an app for that' – shows just how accustomed we’ve become to having everything we need at the touch of a button.

With almost 38 million smartphone owners in the UK, the demand for greater interactivity shows no sign of slowing down. So how do we make sure apps remain fit for the future?

We’ve all seen businesses scramble to bolster digital offerings with new apps, and they’ve often succeeded in streamlining services. Yet most approaches to the smartphone revolution have been unilateral.

With all of our separate apps, we can plan our day – check the weather, get a cab, order tickets, grab a coffee. However, we need to flick through separate programmes to do this all at once.

> See also: How Uber changed the world

This isn’t the case on many websites which offer a series of complimentary services all in one. If you buy tickets for a plane online, you will often receive information about available hotels and taxi services.

We’re seeing closer integration still, take the recent example of Zoopla acquiring the price comparison website, uSwitch, to give customers a portal to not just find, but manage their homes.

App developers, who are always keen on reducing complexity, have been missing a trick – and it could cost them dearly. With the launch of Facebook M, and as voice recognition continues to improve, we are approaching a future where a messaging, or a verbal user interface becomes the primary way in which we navigate the web of connected services.

This could mean that we never click on our apps, instead we’re just directed to links or software according to our ad hoc requests, such as 'book me a cab', or 'what’s on at the cinema'.

To stave off this threat and retain current levels of engagement, apps need to offer more. They must become integrated further with the wider web of services out there.

Quidco in particular has become the first UK business to offer in app integration with Uber – enabling users to find the best deals on the high street, from our growing range of in-store cashback options and book a cab to get them there in a single app. However this degree of integration could just be the tip of the iceberg.

> See also: The checklist for enterprise mobile apps that are flexible yet secure

As the smartphone revolution continues to take hold, consolidating separate services to create a hub within applications could be the industry’s answer toconsumers’ ever-increasing demand for doing everything more, quickly, and with the minimum of hassle.

This can benefit the consumer, but it can also be a boon for businesses involved. In-app integration can enable a brand to tap into a critical mass of users who use complimentary services.

However as more of us are set to use virtual assistants to link services together, this approach can provide the incentive we need to still engage directly with our apps in the years to come.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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Mobile Apps