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Friday 6 Apr 2018 | 4 min read

The future is now: Are intelligent apps the new big thing?

Graphic art depicting an army of intelligent humanoid robots

It’s likely that the technology behind your favourite app or internet service is built on artificial intelligence (AI). Airline apps are helping us discover the cheapest way to jet off on an adventure, smart assistants are making day-to-day living a little easier, and search engines are assisting us in seeking information we didn’t even know we needed.

We might only be seeing the beginnings of what AI is truly capable of, but there are reasons to believe that intelligent apps are the new big thing – and will be for some time to come. To wrap your head around this exciting prospect, let’s dig a little deeper.

What is an intelligent app?

Simply put, an intelligent app is an application supported by AI and advanced machine learning. It’s not a new concept and has been floating around for decades. But in the last few years, access to huge amounts of data, advanced statistical techniques (deep learning), and greater processing power have enabled AI and machine learning to step it up a notch.

Importantly, machine learning doesn’t require much coding. The idea is that the system learns from the data it gathers to provide a relevant and useful service – i.e. the more it is used, the smarter it gets.

Features of an intelligent app might include:

  • Making contextual predictions through studying your behaviour and choices.

  • Differentiating between relevant and irrelevant information – and providing information to you at the right time.

  • Acting as a personal assistant by automating routine tasks on time and without bothering you.

  • Acting on your behalf without waiting for you to take action.

With the digital landscape constantly evolving, it’s difficult to come up with an all-encompassing definition of what intelligent apps are. However, it’s safe to say they are the next generation of apps, designed to continually learn from user interaction which will see them become as relevant and useful as possible for a long time to come.

What are we already seeing?

The progress in AI and machine learning is already manifesting in our everyday lives. Think about the complicated algorithms embedded in smart assistants such as the Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and most recently, Samsung Bixby.

These smart assistants can perform a variety of tasks, such as sending messages, creating reminders, ordering food, setting calendar appointments, answering basic questions (some more accurately than others), recognising your voice, differentiating between who is talking, and playing music. They can also easily integrate with a number of home entertainment systems and other smart devices.

Beyond the realm of smart assistants, there are many other examples of intelligent applications. Online retailers like Amazon are already anticipating your purchase decisions, streaming services like Netflix are using predictive technology to curate your viewing, ridesharing apps like Uber are estimating how long your journey will take, email providers are filtering your spam for you, and banks are even preventing fraud.

There are also AI supported apps that help you track important tasks, lead a healthier lifestyle, manage your time more effectively, optimise your schedule, and talk through your queries via chatbots. Across all industries of business, from healthcare, financial services, and education, to retail, transportation and technology, intelligent applications are:

  • Analysing customer satisfaction

  • Reacting to market trends

  • Monitoring users

  • Making recommendations

  • Calculating risk

  • Tracking price changes

  • Evaluating leads and opportunities

These are just some of the ways in which AI and machine learning are enhancing the world around us. While it might be happening already, the potential uses of intelligent apps in the consumer and business world will continue to be significant, helping to transform the future of work, the structure of workplaces, and the way we live our lives.

Looking ahead

AI is proving to be one of the most promising and potentially useful concepts in technology – even if we don’t always see how it functions in our lives. According to industry watcher Gartner, every app, application and service will incorporate AI at some level over the next few years.

Gartner also expects that many of the 200 biggest companies in the world will use intelligent applications for improving customer experience, big data, and analysis. Having acquired AI startup DeepMind, Google is already trying to break new ground in the arena. But whether corporate giants investing billions into new technology is a good thing or a scary thing is yet to be revealed.

While intelligent apps are only just starting to become widely available, their access and use should see acceleration over the next few years. Who knows what will happen? Will workplaces be entirely free of unnecessary distractions? Will smart assistants start fending off burglars from your home? Are we going to see apps not only read your emails, but also log in with your password and respond to them too? Will they also file your tax returns?

AI still has a long way to go in understanding the full complexity of the human mind. But the future of intelligent apps is potentially mind-blowing, on a consumer and business level. So, are they the new big thing? As far as we’re concerned, they are definitely a contender.

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