Are Chatbots the New Apps?

Since the surge in popularity of the chatbot, there has been much debate over their future use.

Are chatbots the new apps, or just another complementary technology? Click To Tweet

 

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It would seem that the jury remains out on this one at the moment.  However, the debate rages on vehemently, with neither side willing to back down.

 

Why do some people believe chatbots are the new apps?

Firstly the feeling amongst those who believe chatbots are set to replace apps, is that apps have had their day.

Compared to bots they are slow, clunky and outdated.  Loading an app can take time, up to a minute in some (poorly contrived) cases.

To get an app, you need to visit the correct app store and download it.  Apps are space hogs and take up valuable disk space.  Apps can be designed to offer vastly differing functionally.

As a user, whilst each individual app maybe a pleasing UX, across the board there is no continuity.  This means learning the quirks and structure of every new app we use.

 

Chatbots are different

In response to the three points above the ‘for’ camp, who remain unwavering in their belief that chatbots will be the new apps, offer the following rebuttal.

Chatbots are fast. Like really fast. Instant in fact. Click To Tweet

A conversation with a chatbot happens in real time.  There is no downloading involved when using a bot.  You send the bot your message.  That is how you use it.

They are a universal interface.  Instead of navigating someone’s (albeit impressive) app design, you are simply having a chat.  Like you do with a friend.

Think about this example:

If I was going to New York, and had never been before, but a very good friend had moved there 5 years ago, how would my travel planning go?
Would I sit and trawl websites looking for a hotel?  Would I hunt reviews in order to make a dinner reservation somewhere nice?  Or would I pick up my mobile and text my mate?

Having a chatbot is just like having a friend to help you.  It saves you the leg work.  Instead of scrolling and clicking, I simple tell the bot where I want to stay, or what I want to eat, and it can do the work for me.

Just like my friend would recommend a hotel or restaurant and even make the reservations for me. Simple.

 

What do those against the argument offer?

The biggest argument from those who believe that chatbots are not the new apps is planted in the UX camp.Click To Tweet

There is no dispute from them that chatbots have a place and are an exciting, emerging technology, that is not their gripe.

What they are saying is that the two are not interchangeable.  People like the visual experience offered by apps.

Look at it another way. We did not build apps to replace websites, we were simply harnessing the power of mobile technology, and used it to compliment websites and offer a different UX.

Therefore, chatbots are another enhancement to our internet experience but not a replacement for apps.

 

It is clear that in some cases bots do offer a cleaner experience, as demonstrated in the example above.

However, if you like to choose a hotel based on decor and aesthetics, you might still want to check out the images on a travel app.

Maybe they are complementary not conflicting technologies?  I guess we will have to wait and see.

 

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