A new interaction model with some Magic 🎩

March 1, 2015

The on-demand service space has been growing drastically. Uber opened the floodgates and showed what it would be like to have the ability to use our phones as a remote control for our physical lives.

This “satisfaction-on-demand” mindset has grown through different industry verticals making it easier for us to prioritize our lives as we see fit. Need to get some groceries? Use Postmates and get them delivered straight to your door. Need some errands taken care of? Get a Task Rabbit to get it done. Not enough time to clean your house? Don’t worry someone from Homejoy will take care of it. There is now an entire collection on Product Hunt called “Uber for X” just to address this growing space.

There is a new app that recently launched aiming to remove the necessity to identify and choose between apps that are focused along specific verticals. Magic launched a week ago and has taken off since. Their goal is to be the Uber of everything and does this in the most straightforward way possible.

To install the “app” and use the service, all you need to do is send a text message to the number on their website. After that they’ll send you a message and get your number hooked up to your credit card via Stripe. Once you are setup all you need to do is send a text letting them know what you want and Magic will research/place your order and text you to let you know how much it will cost. If you confirm they will follow through with the action and charge your card on file, otherwise you can request to cancel the order.

Would this sort of service be considered an “App”? It’s not on the app store and doesn’t provide a native client. But, on the other hand your front-end service is Messages and it utilizes a back end service.

Traditional apps have the added burden for the applications to support the user’s platform and useful enough to be kept on the user’s device taking up space. Furthermore, these applications have slower turn around times for users and they must be updated. But how many apps really need to overcome all these barriers?

Many apps can be simplified into a text message platform where all devices are effectively supported and take up no space on the device. By leveraging a text message platform as the front-end interface, it can enjoy the benefits of a web system where updates and changes can be deployed instantly. More importantly, by simplifying the user “interface” it provides a flexible input, text anything you want.

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This follows the same focus as Google’s text field. Strip away all distractions and let the user focus on what they want. Everything behind the curtain may be insanely complicated (and a bunch of magicians getting you want you want) but it doesn’t need to feel like it.

While this sort of freeform interaction model will not fit many apps, it could provide an effective way to explore the viability of certain concepts and ideas. This model not only provides the ability to get to market quicker than designing and developing a full app, but the flexibility also provides a way to understand your user’s intentions and help define the app.