You can’t do ANYTHING without an app!

If you follow me on socials, you might think that I really didn’t enjoy my holiday…

But it’s not really true. We had a great time.

I think that, as I relax and unwind, and the adrenaline that’s been keeping everything at bay dissipates, and the major life stuff is put aside, things come crashing down and the minor annoyances of life are suddenly much more noticable.

And other than appliances and customer service, the other thing that really bugged me while on holiday was that you need a flippin’ app or website registration for SO many things.

  • Get a voucher for a meal at a restaurant: Download an app and register.
  • Check which beaches are safe to swim at: Probably on a website, but the encouragement was to download the app.
  • Get a map for the forest park: OK, this didn’t NEED an app, but, again, it was encouraged and signposted when paper maps were not.
  • Hire a scooter: Download app and register.
  • Scan a non-standard QR code on a box of cereal. I didn’t have to do this, but I was curious. Apparently it’s great for accessibility, and could be some wonderful tech, but it’s proprietary tech that’s not without issues and, really, an app to read a colorful QR code?
  • Trying to find out when the next bus is: the app was optional, but again, encouraged. And it had neat real-time bus-tracking features too.
  • Buying tickets for the aquarium: this probably legitimately needed registration, but was still ANOTHER account I had to create while mobile.

And don’t get me started on parking. I now have JustPark, RingGo, PhoneAndPay, PayByPhone, and Apcoa Connect and they all forget who I am and fail in every possible way when ALL I WANT TO DO IS PAY £3 TO PARK MY CAR!!!!

The friction that tech has brought to all of these things seems to be huge. Downloading apps on mobile data isn’t nice. Registering for anything that requires a password isn’t nice (yes I use a password manager, and no it’s not very helpful in these scenarios). Confirming identity by email is a mess.

How can we make this better?

  • Use lightweight, progressive web apps, that I can open in a regular browser, without an app download.
  • Allow some way to do the thing without creating an account, or allowing me to create an account later. Surely someone has fixed the spam and fraud issues by now?
  • Find some better way than passwords for login. Login with Apple/Google seems to help here, but isn’t always implemented and I’m not entirely sure if I like its magic.
  • Go and actually user test your applications and websites in real life scenarios – like, I want to book a ticket to the aquarium from the beach. Or I want to frickin pay £3 to park my frickin’ car in a frickin’ car park and we can land a car-sized rover on Mars using a rocket-powered hovering crane so why can’t I reset my password right now. I feel like so many of these apps are tested in offices and never actually taken into the real world and used in a real-world scenario.

I dunno. There are some hard problems here. But there are some awesome opportunities to use tech to make things easier and better for people.

But we MUST reduce the friction of trying to do these things to grasp those opportunites and not just frustrate people who are trying to enjoy their holiday.