So you've heard of the new app by Skype that offers users the chance to communicate through short videos? And you've heard of the number 42? That is the maximum number of seconds allotted to videos in the new app, Qik as well as the number of famous baseball player Jackie Robinson.
We think of messaging as mobile, lightweight, much like the digital touchscreen keyboards that we use on our phones or tablet devices. This aesthetic works for those of us who aren't writing novels, for when we need a quick response or intention expressed.
9 out of 10 of the most used apps are from large media companies. So whereas before, when anyone could compete in the app marketplace, that isn't so viable anymore. We're left to communicate with only a handful of tools that have little-to-nothing to do with hardware. As our connectivity increases, our apps don't increase or diversify as much, as hardware is completely ignored.
However, recently, The Verge highlighted a company built on the nostalgia of old computing. What do they sell? Clickykeyboards.com sells the IBM M keyboard, with the archetypical shape and bulkiness of the era. Though it's a size smaller than the typewriters we see cast away on discount shelves or prop vaults, it looks prehistoric next to the iPhone. The massive jump between the two is the allure. It's the thrill of watching the 1995 movie Hackers even now.
In fact, some videos on Youtube are merely the typing of keys from various different models and brands of keyboard. This general sound (you can imagine it now) is what we refer to as ambient noise, yet it used to be the permitted noise of the office, the thing that tricked our brains into thinking, 'Work is getting done!'
On top of sound, we love the contact-points on our devices, hence why the entire screen on the smartphone is responsive. And this is why video chatting is alarming at first: nothing to touch.
Video and voice calling over the Internet has made strides but hasn't had the life-changing success we thought it would. Resistances come in all shapes and sizes, or may look like apps like Ethan, which resembles the Ask Jeeves interface that tried to compete with Google in the early days of semantic search.
Messaging via text is still king. The newest version of Skype tells us this, displays it, makes it prettier.
Version 7 aims for more than a redesign; it has made it easy to send and receive documents, chat, and have visible profiles. Skype on your phone will look the same as on your Mac or PC, and virtually identical to the version on your tablet. And now Qik, whose name is somewhat confusing given the plethora of messaging apps that look almost identical (Kik and Qwik), has hit the market to fill any gaps in Skype's bag of tricks.
Qik doesn't offer anything revolutionary, just a better user experience, and a time saver. It also appeals to discret or private communications more than phoning mom and dad. "The Future Is On Autopilot," or the title of this researched piece on automated cars, rings true for how many feel about services like Qik and crafts like drones.
And given news that Snapchat was "hacked" via a third-party piggyback that misused photos and permissions, Qik couldn't come at a better time for people concerned about privacy.
We will now predict three potential futures for the messaging app world:
Apps like Qik dominate (With consequences!).
Snapchat was only the beginning of self-destructing material. Okay, okay, Mission Impossible was the original. If we're going down this route, let's be a little more speculative. Could we imagine videos that destroy themselves while being shot? What about scenarios that would be impossible to make into a video, via special equipment that detects the camera's eye? A device like this has already been invented, so we're not far off.
The consequences of this boom in short videos that appeal to our shorter attention spans should be obvious. They promote content dry interactions, and who has time for that? As Facebook has shown, everyone has time for that.
Anonymity makes finding your friends more difficult.
An App like Yo finds friends and Yo's at them.
That is the bulk of what Yo does, and yet people are still talking about it. If it doesn't promise friends, the future app market driven by anonymity must promise a similar relationship, or it will die.
Video needs text too.
It's the power of the caption; it's the subtext or context to a situation that a video can't provide on its own. Video will need text and the two shall never be apart.
Expect to see apps like Secret and Qik collide, but do more than this. Inspire others to focus on quality, not length. This isn't a test at school, it's our visual world, and people spend a lot of time making it worthy of a frame.