This question was originally posted on Quora. I had posted an answer there and then thought of making it a part of my blog as well.
What apps do you wish someone would make for you?
While framing the answer I felt this is potential of a great design discussion and it was opening gates to many ideas with with great flow charts. In order to not let is explode I tried to keep my answer brief and if anyone interested I am all sport for a discussion upon it further.
Seriously! with so many apps in market, it has become an Amazon like jungle with many trees and fruits, where we know(or at-least have a hunch) the fruit exists, but challenge is how to find the one you are looking for. And most importantly here fruit is something you can hypothesize and most probably it would already exist quite closer to your imagination. But how do I reach to it? Suppose I found a fruit which appears like the one I was thinking off, I don’t know it for sure unless I taste it, and worse is, when I taste it I realize naah! not what I wanted. And now should I re-imagine a different fruit or try a different similar looking fruit? OMG! thinking about apps appear pretty complex now.
Breaking into sub-problems:
The way I would further break the problem in following sub-problems:
1. When would I know I might need a app? (or) How would I know what I am thinking can be helped by an app?
2. If I am sure of what I am thinking then how would I create a proper search string to find them(app)?
3. How would I be sure that the search string I have created is exactly how the app publisher would have kept it in the tags to be searched?
4. When I am give 1000+ choices how would I find the one without trying them one by one?
5. Because I don’t know which all apps exist and I won’t know there might exist an app for the problem I am thinking. Hence I might not go and search for it. And just live with all that comes to be from recommendations.
One potential solution to address above sub-problems:
I guess we should use something like AlterEgoAlterEgo is a device in evolution, which is growing the capability of reading our thoughts. Now modify it a bit for our use case. Let’s feed this(thought) to an AI system which breaks the need into “app capabilities”, I am looking for and makes the search for me. But this search will be more like “machine searching machine” and I hope better chances of mutual understanding here<wink>. Sounds crazy! but if you try to design, it would make sense. Now question is search where? We have all systems designed to be searched by Humans. Great! lets make that too.
A google like search for machines: While publishing an app, it would be tested by AI bots and their capabilities would be fed to a Database before they are uploaded to any app store. There will be a many to many relationships between apps and their capabilities. Database will capture the mapping of capability and corresponding apps.
There you go:
You think something -> AlterEgo Like Deice reads it feeds it to machine learning engine-> This Engine translates what yo need to capabilities and -> Google for machines gets the app(s) for you, which has highest rank in the capabilities score.
I guess this is what I would want as an app to do for me. My search app. I am not sure if this is the future of Google Assistant