Kia ora! I'm Blair. I design fun, educational tools that help people take action.

Apps as coaches

Blair wrote this on 24 Jul


Messaging apps are becoming a big deal. I personally use Slack all the time, as does my family. The point is, messaging apps are becoming the main communication tools for many people. Here are some brilliant insights into the possible future of messaging apps.

The aspect of this article I found interesting was the idea of suggested responses. The examples in the article relate to booking a lift with Uber or buying movie tickets.

“Just as keyboard features like QuickType on iOS suggest words you might like to make, the messaging app could suggest entire messages:”

The idea is that if an app becomes aware that you want to accomplish something it presents some options for you to choose. For example:

“I need a lift home”

“I need a lift to work”

I’m a huge fan of apps as coaches. For this to work well an app needs access to some data about you and your context in order to make suggestions that will assist instead of annoy. Apps as coaches.

So now think about how training traditionally works. What if instead of taking a present-and-memorise approach, you used an app that could both push and pull information to you in context.

For example, if I’m at the airport my banking app on my phone knows to offer me info about banking when overseas. How does it do this? It simply knows my location (the airport) and it sends me a notification that I can take action on or dismiss. The notification is relevant and helpful.

Now imagine bringing that same functionality into a training situation. If I’m near a certain piece of equipment my device can push a notification that asks me if I want to get some tips on using the equipment safely and correctly.

Of if an app has access to my calendar and it knows I’m going into a sales call the app can offer me sales tips or offer to show me some CRM info on the person I’m meeting with or link me to their social network profiles.

The app does this by offering me suggested commands I can give it. For example: “I want some sales tips” or “I want to see Dave’s purchase history”.

Now I can google sales tips or look up Dave’s CRM data myself. But this is just one example of how apps can have a conversation with us and take away the need to remember so many things. They can bring possible actions to our attention we may be blind to because of repetition or familiarity. They can help to add an element of automation and reduce cognitive load. Apps as coaches.

Do you already use an app that works something like this? How could you make use of an app as a coach?


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