Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has coined the phrase “Conversation as a Platform.” Speaking at an industry conference, Nadella was discussing the importance of decreased reliance on proprietary applications and increased and more genuine communication between humans and technology.
It was only a few short years ago that this kind of talk could have you demonised as a crazy futurist, but now two major factors are speeding the necessity of using voice iterations as a tool to engage with our mobile phones and laptops.
The first, is the downwards trend of apps. Not that we are using them less, in fact Apple’s invention is only becoming more important, and has now been adopted as a modus operandi for most major technology businesses and users around the world. However, we are using a core group of applications more, and only certain portions. The rest we are downloading and not doing anything with, it seems we like the theory, but are not translating that into actual day-to-day usage. the implication of this is excessive storage being used for inefficient and unused applications, which experts are blaming, not on the apps or their functionality, but on the way we are able to communicate with them.
The second factor is the rise of the machine – digital assistants. Plenty has been written about Siri, Cortana and the other digital assistants that are becoming more useful, and with Apple’s new operating system on the horizon, complete with an enhanced messaging system and a more intuitive Siri, the way we communicate is about to change again.
Likewise, Microsoft – including through Satya Nadella’s comment – has acknowledged the importance of speaking to, rather than typing on your phone. But how does all of this impact on how apps are purchased and managed on your phone?
Through combining artificial intelligence (AI), and current prototypes for a user interface which are rumoured to be released on Google’s first in-house phone next year, your phone is likely to become less of a communication device and more of a digital concierge. Using “conversation as a platform”, essentially giving orders to your digital assistant, will mean that the AI platform will learn and make assumptions about what components of apps are required for a certain job. There will be no need to download complete applications, and you will continue to train the AI as you go about your normal day.
For example, if you purchased something online, in a store that you wouldn’t normally use and you need to make a payment on an unfamiliar platform, you can simply tell Alexa, or Google Now, what you want to do and through which platform and your digital assistant will interact with the portions of the applications required and complete the transaction. Likewise, if you are going through a tolling station in an unfamiliar country, Siri will be able to communicate with the application, download the components required, make the necessary payment, and delete it afterwards.
“Conversation as a platform,” sums up the next stage of mobile telephony – if we’re still calling at that – perfectly. As artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent, and the opportunities associated with that become more obvious, our lives and businesses will have the potential to become more streamlined, and less encumbered by technology. Technology, after all, is like a good waiter – you can judge how good they are by how little you are made aware of their existence.

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