Apps Better Than The Real Thing

Paul Graham on Tablets,

“But I think it will surprise people how many things are going to get replaced. We funded one startup that’s replacing keys. The fact that you can change font sizes easily means the iPad effectively replaces reading glasses. I wouldn’t be surprised if by playing some clever tricks with the accelerometer you could even replace the bathroom scale.”

Applications are replacing real world objects.

Right now the apps that I use that replace physical objects include:

  • Camera
  • Calendar
  • Alarm clock
  • Notebook
  • Budget and financial planner
  • Reading material
  • Todo list
  • Shopping list
  • Flashlight
  • GPS used for running
  • Sketchbook

I’m sure people can go much further with this than I have.

There are two things I want to point out:

1. Each app that’s better than it’s real world equivalent increases the value of the device.
1. The more tools one device replaces the more valuable it becomes.

A lot of the time these apps are smarter, they’re integrated with one another, and they can can share information across apps or to social networks.

But even if these apps aren’t better, even if they only provide the most rudimentary of features where it would be impractical to manufacturer a device that does so little, it’s still contributes to a setup that I would be reluctant to give up.

There’s a selection available to me that if I want a really complex and sophisticated GTD system, I can use OmniFocus. If I want a really simple and clean GPS system, I can use Kinect. The options are all there for me that I can mix and match what’s on my device and make the best option for me available.

Now that my phone have replaced these things, just how difficult would it be for a new platform to replace what I have now? Would I ever willingly consent to switching systems if it meant giving up even one of these tools?

I’ve gotten adept at having all this be in my phone very very quickly.

Overtime the more I add to this list the tighter my integration with my phone will become. In my last post I talked about how one thing Apps do for a platform is open up new ways for people to use the device. Getting to a point of “I could see my self doing that” meant making it an easier decision for people to buy. I also said that after a point apps stop teaching. But what I didn’t think about was how many different ways I use and rely on apps on a day to day basis. These particular apps didn’t just enlighten me to new ways I could use the device, but they completely replaced other tools in the process.

What I’m realizing is that at any one time my device could be:
  • A communications hub
  • A gateway into digital media and entertainment
  • A tool for work
  • [and now…] A digital replacement of multiple physical tools.

I wonder if I’ll be adding more things to that list over time.

So what’s after apps? Well at least one thing is to stop seeing them just as apps, and to start seeing them as tools which in many cases are superior to the real thing.

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