App Connectivity Empowers Apps

I’ve been pleasantly absorbed getting an iPad up and running the last few weeks, and I’ve learned something that is applicable to any client device: apps gain most of their power from interacting with other apps.

Case in point: I use Tripit, and got another travel-oriented app called FlightTrack (in fact I paid for FlightTrack Pro, as much because I believe in paying for software as because I like the Pro features (although I do)).

Well you can type flight numbers into FlightTrack, and it’ll give you vital info about them, like mainly whether or not they’ll be on time. But if you integrate FlightTrack with TripIt you get automatic lists of all the flights in your TripIt trips, without lifting a finger. Power of integration.

So now, on the mobile, I get a flight itinerary from the travel agent, forward it to TripIt, who parses it and turns it into flight, calendar, and other relevant info, then feeds the flight info to FlightTrack.

This is the future of apps, this is the future of app-driven programming from the cloud.  Workflows of app(let)s dynamically assembled to accomplish a one-time or recurring task.

(Now in this case the apps were statically assembled, a big hassle with manually typed-in passwords and all kinds of other (shudder) legacy stuff.  But you get the idea.)

Incidentally, this is one place where Android shines.  The operating system embeds connectivity through a “publish and subscribe” facility exposed to users via the “Share” menu.  iOS jumps through hoops to accomplish the same thing, generally on a one-off app-by-app scheme that is, frankly, flakey.  (I’m not especially an Android zealot, but this is one case where it’s clearly ahead to my mind.)

How do you chain together or connect apps to accomplish tasks?


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