For the last 7 years or so, mobile apps have dominated the technology market, first on the consumer side, and increasingly, in the consumerization of the enterprise. That market is maturing, and the question now is: what's next?
It really comes back to the question of technology assisting in real-life issues, activities and productivity. Technology should be a means to an end. So, the more efficiently and elegantly it can take you from point A to point B, the better. As of now, that is with apps that are easy to learn, and quick to deliver the intended result. Yet, they still require "inhuman" interactions. Why do we prefer mobile apps? I believe it is the upgrade from a mouse to a touch of your finger. This is a step toward a more human interaction.
It makes sense that those inhuman interactions will continue to be targeted as inefficient and tedious, and replaced with human interactions. The relatively brief period of perhaps 75 years of interacting with computers by things like mouse and keyboard will pass, and people will interact with technology in the same way they've interacted with each other for thousands of years. Future kids watching old videos of us fighting with Windows 95 just won't understand how we could fail so badly at getting a scanner to work, or even what a scanner was for!
I have been watching the progression of deep learning and neural networks, and it's becoming increasingly clear that those who build the best neural network, and the algorithms to leverage them, will win the next phase of the computing game.
As of this moment, Google is winning. Looking at it's history, it actually appears as though this was their end game all along. They have indexed the world's information, and are directly producing and/or housing a huge part of all new data. Consider their mapping efforts, gmail, google photos, youtube, books, and obviously, the internet itself is indexed on their servers better than any other company.
Their latest keynote events focus on the Google Assistant. It is central to their newest phone the Pixel. Increasingly, assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa by Amazon, and Cortana by Microsoft, are bypassing app interfaces, and allowing you to speak to them. For example, now you just ask your phone to order an Uber, and we're pretty much at the point where the assistant will "open" Uber for you fill in the blanks needed to complete the task. It is early days, but it is clear this is the next phase of technology.
In the enterprise, similar technology will eventually arise. Imagine searching your entire document library using natural language. A conversation you've had with your peers where you know there was some old email which applied to a given situation, and you're all trying to find it. In a day not too far into the future, you'll be able to have that conversation with the machine, to help find the information you need. Other activities, such as the joy of trying to book meetings when everyone is available, are already being taken on by algorithms and automation. I won't miss that activity when it's gone.
Keep your eye on Google, and let's see if Apple can maintain its strong phone/app position once the power of the Google Assistant becomes clear to the masses. Maybe Apple has some trick up its sleeve to allow Siri to catch up, but based on their latest communications, it doesn't look like it.