Frictionless App Development

If you’re a pilot, you know that you divide people into two groups: pilots and not pilots. The same could be said for coders: you either turn caffeine into code or you don’t. The world has just changed for coders. (Don’t even ask about pilots who code.) Frictionless app development, the process of developing apps without the need for techies or investment, is here and these apps can be deployed without the need for a tech stack. App developers no longer even need to know what a tech stack is. OpenAI’s recent announcements (6th November 2023) showed that app creation – and importantly, deployment – is no longer the domain of techies. Yes, AI tools have revolutionised code development too and improved developer productivity dramatically in 2023 but app development has just been democratized.

Understanding frictionless app development

Frictionless app development is the process whereby anyone with a bit of intelligence will be able to think of an app they want for their own purposes or for their business, tell an AI what it needs to do and have the AI build the app, with the AI clarifying needs as appropriate using natural language understanding. This will allow people just to talk to an AI saying something like “Build me an app that will send an email to the managers of all our outlets if cold weather is forecast in their area in the next 4 days so that they can preemptively adjust their stock displays to make jumpers and gloves more prominent and thus increase sales.” The AI will then build the app, integrating with the necessary emailing lists and so on. The cost of developing this app will roughly be your own time costs.

By making it incredibly easy to build an app, the friction involved in app development disappears: it won’t require expensive techie time and therefore won’t need at least some semblance of a cost-benefit analysis before anything happens; it won’t require detailed specification writing because the AI will usually be able to work out what you want and ask you for clarification if it can’t; deployment won’t require complex integrations because tools like GPTs can be added to a web page easily and these GPTs can be linked up to other tools via integrators like Zapier.

Development cost barriers tumble

So cost barriers come tumbling down. Techie availability will no longer be an issue, and all techies have infinite backlogs. The channel pinch between idea and implementation disappears making apps that were previously too costly now worth building. Just as importantly, as people recognise how easy it is to build apps, more minds and thus more creativity will be brought to the development fold increasing the range and depth of ideas that get turned into apps.

By prioritizing ease of use, automation and integration, frictionless app development strips away the complexities that traditionally bog down software projects or stop them from starting in the first place. Frictionless app development means a smoother, faster path from concept to deployment.

The two markets for apps

People will broadly develop apps for two reasons. There will be one category built for personal or internal reasons. The other category will be those the developer intends to market on the GPT Store or elsewhere. The former won’t have competition. The latter will struggle for air. The half life of apps will decrease and App store SEO will be the new skill set in demand.

The importance of business agility

The ability to pivot and adapt to market changes fast is a superpower and frictionless app development is a supercharger. However, friction free app development won’t help those businesses that either fail to exploit the technology or those that simply don’t know about it. It is even more true now than it was to say that AI won’t take your job, but a competitor who uses AI will. This may happen rather faster than you expect!

Experimentation and innovation with lower risks

One of the most exciting aspects of frictionless app development is the freedom it affords businesses to experiment. With a lower cost of entry and quicker turnaround times, companies can explore innovative features and services with less fear of financial failure. This environment of experimentation can lead to breakthroughs that might otherwise never have seen the light of day.

This freedom also encourages a culture of continuous improvement within organizations. Developers are empowered to refine and iterate, knowing that the deployment of their improvements will be swift and seamless. Failures, an extremely important and intrinsic part of product development and fear of which is often a brake on activity, won’t be so costly and career destroying. This will foster great innovation.