What would happen if you let a collection of apps dictate your every move? If instead of deciding what to wear, eat, or do you left those choices up to an algorithm, would you be better off? Mobile technology is now so functional, so advanced, it can track down information in the blink of an eye. Is it possible, then, that apps are better equipped to make intelligent choices than we are?
Natt Garun, a writer and editor with The Next Web, aimed to find out. For an entire day she left every choice up to her apps. One of them devised a great breakfast recipe using the random ingredients found in her fridge. Another took her to a perfect Internet café that, though it was nearby, she'd never visited of her own accord.
You can read about Garun's experience online, but I think you know where this is going. In her story she highlights a spectacular range of apps, each more useful than the last...but in the end, her personal choices were the better ones. "When we rely on algorithms," she says, "we discredit the fact that our personal computer – the human brain – is just as 'smart.'"
It's an excellent point, but it begs the question: what, then, are apps good for? If we're equipped to make the best choices for our needs, why rely on a style app to recommend an outfit based on the weather forecast?
In part, it comes down to the way we live. We've become a very discerning species, increasingly unwilling to settle for less than "the best." Apps tap into this desire for quality and variety, so that when we're torn between two watches we can poll strangers for a crowdsourced opinion that could help us make the buy.
There are a few aspects of daily living in which apps really do excel at delivering smart options. Let's begin with discovery. Music, restaurants, films, books...whatever you're looking for, there's an app at the ready to help you find it. Can you ask a friend to recommend a new musical artist, or a librarian to point you to a good read? Of course. But apps represent a nice way to supplement such personal interactions.
Utility, too, is an area within which apps do well. They help us with banking and messaging, taking photographs and planning trips. Apps can't manage these tasks on their own, but they help us streamline, which can make the tasks much more enjoyable.
And then there's content: whether you're curating it or publishing it, apps can help you do it on the go. They deliver the news aggregators and social media tools that facilitate both content exploration and sharing. They can't write your blog post for you, but they can help you be smarter with your time by allowing you upload it from wherever you are.
Apps are the telephone operators of the 21st century, connecting us to the people and places we're looking for. They're the butlers of the modern world, supporting housekeeping efforts and chores. The difference is that they don't come with biped brainpower. Whatever it is that you need to do, there's probably an app for that. It may not replace human intelligence...but it sure is handy.