Mobile and the dawn of the age of inference

“That’s what I thought you meant” – SIRI 2013

The mobile revolution hasn’t really even started yet – that’s what Dave Lieb, founder of BUMP and Flock said to me during a recent episode on I love this kind of enthusiasm – especially from someone who truly, down to his core, understands the cultural and business impact we are yet to witness due to this new way of thinking.

Part of this shift, beyond the devices, beyond the apps and certainly beyond this first generation of “personalization”, is going to be brought on by smarter-than-us, always on and mostly right cloud-based inference offerings. Big words for the wisdom of the cloud bringing value to our lives – without us asking for it.

Let me explain. Today, we do much of what we do in mobile with intent – meaning we launch a browser, we launch an app, we ask for directions and we search for something – we initiate. Inference happens the other way where context tells us things like the best time to leave our house based on traffic or to send a message to someone we are meeting telling them we are going to be late or knowing that we are near a grocery store and we are out of milk. This is where it will start.

Apple has already started in contextual awareness with their Passbook product. It only shows us what is relevant when it is relevant. For example – airlines tickets only matter when you get to the airport so Passbook only shows them when you are close by. However, eventually it will do much much more. For example, what if the plane is late or cancelled? A simple notification could be sent based on the information the device (and the cloud) already know about. Why couldn’t a trigger happen when you board the plane for a car or cab to be waiting when you arrive at the other end. Simple but effective and all done based on information already known and a little forward thinking. Inference.

Robert Scoble offered up a small glimpse of the way this world is changing habits on a recent flight he was on – he calls this “winning” in the digital game. He said he was sitting on his flight as they were taxiing away from the terminal when a notification poped up on his phone from the TripIt app saying the flight he was on was cancelled and gave him some options to rebook on a different flight. Some quick research, a click of a button and he was booked on the next available flight before the captain came on the PA to announce that the flight was indeed returning to the terminal for repair.

There are literally millions of little nuanced moments where smart inference can help our lives and they will come. These devices, their processors, the connectivity are only the start of a far greater movement being ushered in through these small screens.

Some apps that show promise now:
1. Passbook by Apple
2. Tempo
3. Moves
4. Bump
5. Flock
6. Banjo
7. Project Noah
8. TripIt
9. Twist
10. Waze

Ask me about why I think these apps are on the right track!

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

/* ]]> */