App to App Handshakes

I wrote a post a few weeks ago asking when and if we would have a mobile web that acts and feels like the desktop web. The discussion was fantastic and I have a lot of takeaways and to dos from it.

In the environment we are in today, I see the mobile OS as the foundational app and I see the third party apps as features in that OS. This view comes from Tim O'Reilly's Internet Operating System construct adapted to the mobile environment. In effect, the mobile OS has assumed the role that the browser plays in the desktop web.

The cool thing about the Internet OS with web apps as features is that the features are interoperable. I post a picture to Instagram and push it to Twitter and it comes through as a picture (or it did until the kids started fighting). I find something I want to buy on Etsy and I check out on Paypal. You get the idea. Web apps pass data and users back and forth easily.

That is not true on mobile today. Even on Android where sharing is baked into the OS. It is a lot worse on iOS. But its bad all over the place.

If you post an Etsy item to Facebook and I want to buy it, I click on the link in Facrbook mobile and am taken to Etsy's mobile web app where I am not logged in and its a pain to buy. I want to go app to app to Etsy's mobile app where I am logged in and its one click to buy.

This morning I was at the gym listening to the Django Unchained Soundtrack on my phone in the SoundCloud android app. I decided I wanted to make Trinity my song of the day on Tumblr. I hit the share icon, up came a list of apps, I selected Tumblr, and I was taken to the Tumblr app but as a link share. I wanted an audio share.

Maybe all of this app to app handshaking will be solved one by one by the third party apps. I already have an email out to SoundCloud and Tumblr to let them know about that last thing.

But a better approach would be for the mobile OS vendors to build really great data and user handshaking into the OS so third party developers can implement it without having to talk to each other each time they want their apps to work together intelligently.

We have two options. We can make the app centric mobile environment work more like the web or we can make the mobile web more like apps. I suspect we will do both. As a user I can't wait for both to happen.