My current understanding…
Recently, I’ve been wanting to organize my thoughts around this term “bots” and how it relates to the tech we know as “apps”. Last year, I started hearing more and more about the future of bots and what it means for how people use apps. I knew the technology itself was not necessarily new in and of itself, but was curious why it became such a hot topic so quickly. Researchers and enthusiasts are connecting the dots between the capacity of what bots can do, with technology that leverages research involving language studies and how people are using apps to communicate with one another. Work done to learn how we’re using these apps is starting to inform designers and developers about how to create intuitive interfaces for the bots to utilize.
What is a bot?
So, what is a bot exactly, and how are they valuable? A bot is software that allows you to perform tasks more autonomously than you typically would through a manual task or engaging directly with a dedicated application. Most commonly, they’re worked into an interface that replicates casual conversation – think about the tech behind Google Home, Siri on your iPhone, etc.
What is an app?
I bet more of you are familiar with apps than bots. Applications, or “apps”, are also software but they are more widely known as programs that are intended to run on your phone or other mobile device. More broadly, the term has begun to apply to software programs in general.
Why are the two being compared? Should we compare them?
Some folks seem to think “no”, and I can see their point. In his article, “The Pointless Debate: Bots vs. Apps”, the author makes a good point that bots are simply “a mode of an application”. A user can use a bot to interface with an app, or multiple apps to execute a task at hand. In this context, we can’t really use them for an apples-to-apples comparison exercise.
It’ll be interesting to see how the industry continues to uncover how bots can create richer user experiences. From smart home appliances to news delivery systems, they’re definitely growing in popularity, and I’m curious how the technology will continue to evolve.