Chris Dixon makes the observation that new user interface paradigms lead to new notions of ‘productivity app’, by which he seems to mean so-called ‘office apps’.
We are just scratching the surface on the kinds of apps for the iPad…I think there are lots of kinds of content that can be created on the iPad. When I am going to write that 35-page analyst report, I am going to want my Bluetooth keyboard. That’s 1 percent of the time. The software will get more powerful. I think your vision would have to be pretty short to think these can’t grow into machines that can do more things, like editing video, graphic arts, productivity. You can imagine all of these content creation possibilities on these kind of things. Time takes care of lots of these things.
If you go back and look at the history of productivity apps you’ll see that each major user interface shift led to new classes of productivity apps. Back in the 70s and 80s, when computers had text-based interfaces, word processor applications like Wordperfect and spreadsheet applications like Lotus 1-2-3 were invented. In the 80s and 90s, when graphical interfaces became popular, presentation apps like Powerpoint and photo editing apps like Photoshop were invented. If the historical pattern repeats, productivity apps that are “native” to the tablet will be invented.
Chris doesn’t make any predictions, but I will make one. Gestural displays are already having an aesthetic/kinesthetic impact, with tools like Clear showing the way.
But I think the biggest breakthrough will come from apps that allow groups to co-curate better than how we do it now. The activity stream is now the dominant social motif of social tools, but we are being streamed to death in a dozen siloed apps.
There is an opportunity to place social in the OS on our proximal devices. Imagine if iOS 8 (9?) arrived with a social stream baked in (they should have bought Twitter when it was cheap), and that applications could use to push and pull messages into. We could have a single context for all our streaming information, and we could share with people rather than with apps. Google could play along with Android, and we’d see the next generation of apps sharing a model of sociality, just like apps do today for the file system and the web.