These days, smartphones generally come with built-in map and navigation apps, a calendar, and a weather center, but most users have also dabbled in the world of free or paid app downloads — a category encompassing the likes of Instagram, Venmo, Mint, VSCO, and thousands of other hugely popular apps.
With so many apps with a diverse array of functions on the market, could all-in-one apps be the wave of the future? We’ve set out to investigate this trend, and the companies that have shifted their focus to a central, all-in-one design experience.
The Basics of All-in-One
All-in-one apps can be designed in two ways: based on an open, functional network of already existing apps, or built entirely as an all-in-one experience from the ground up.
The first of these, called open-loop networking, is a concept often used in payment processing systems. Prepaid Mastercard, American Express, or Visa cards — in other words, cards that can be used at multiple vendors — fall under the category of open-loop payment processing cards. Conversely, under a closed-loop payment system, a card can only be used at a specific store (think a Starbucks giftcard or a pre-loaded transit card).
In the app world, open-loop networking facilitates a system for numerous, pre-existing apps to work together. For example, an open loop system would let you chat with a friend via Facebook Messenger while also allowing you to pay them back for dinner via Venmo and order an Uber to meet up with them — all within the messenger app itself. A closed-loop network, conversely, is how most apps are currently designed. They work around a very specific purpose, and do not allow for cross-app functionality.
Apps in Action
One example of a closed loop app that breaks this single-use stereotype is WeChat. The super-app has become many Chinese users’ default home on the smartphone. The Economist calls it “one app to rule them all” — and as a hub that most users visit first before navigating to other sites, the description is fitting.
This powerhouse app trend is catching on. Facebook offers newsfeed and entertainment options to users, and now, through Facebook Messenger, they’ve made it possible to purchase items and order an Uber within conversations. Alternatively, Google Now uses customizable “cards” to display relevant app-based information to users, and has established partnerships with companies like Airbnb, Spotify, and more. Based on a user’s card settings, Google Now can remind you about an event, tell you when to leave to make it to a meeting on time, and even help you track everything from airline ticket prices to weather trends.
As consumers continue to rely on smartphones as a part of daily life, the ability to do more with apps becomes critical. However, for budding app developers, all-in-one apps are prohibitively expensive and difficult to build. Luckily, apps designed with precision and a seamless user experience in mind will never go out of style.
To #makeanapp — or a multitude of apps — with a specific purpose, AppMakr presents a viable alternative for your app development aspirations.
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