The Killer Feature of Messaging No One’s Talking About

As more and more services get more deeply embedded into the chat experience, messengers will likely deploy a range of UIs to support them. I may want to ask my bank chatbot to send me a copy of my monthly statement as a text message, but I’ll buy a pizza by selecting a visual menu page, and perhaps hail an Uber using a combination of a bot and a threaded button, Facebook M-style. Despite all of the discussion on chat bots, I’m convinced the chat thread will evolve to encompass a wide range of interactions with a range of UIs to enable them. Chats will be hybrid of human and bot chat, sprinkled with full screen GUIs as well as decomposed, chattable “min-terface” bits like threaded text buttons, graphical UI elements in soft-keyboards, and nicely displayed placards of information.

What will drive all of this is not just the arrival of bots, but the fact that threads are simply a better paradigm for organising your digital life than anything cobbled together from email, web pages, apps and the odd SMS. They’re great at keeping context (simply scroll up if you forget what you’re talking about), so they can help people shift quickly from one stream of communication to another without the soul destroying digging around we are forced to do today. And they’re perfect for organising everything around what’s actually important: the thing you’re trying to do or the person with whom you want to communicate. Let’s look at a couple of examples of how this could work.