Predictions for 2011 – 3. The Rise of Multi-user, Multi-device Tablet Applications

This is the third instalment of my predictions for big tech trends in 2011. Read prediction 1 and prediction 2 as well …

3. The Rise of Multi-user, Multi-device Tablet Applications

Multi-user games and apps are not new (just look at World of Warcraft), but alongside the rise of the new multi-touch tablets, a new type of user experience is possible: co-located, multi-user applications. In other words, apps which allow two or more people to simulatenously interact together over the same device.

What does this mean in UX terms? It has the potential to fundamentally change the way that we collaborate. Traditionally, if we want to work together on the same document at the same time, we would need to either gather around the same laptop, with one person ‘driving’ and the other watching. Or – the more likely option – is to print it out and then transfer it back to digital afterwards. Multitouch tablets has the potential to allow us to do this on the same screen together but with the added bonus of having the computer do some of the computational work.

More importantly, if seamless sharing experiences can be realised (particularly across mobile devices), it opens up two possibilities: one is putting multiple iPhones and iPads together to create a single ‘screen’. For instance, in PadRacer, there is a single track which is split across two iPads:

Then there is the other possibility of using multiple iPhones and iPads in a ‘Master-Slaves’ configuration – just like Scrabble for the iPad/iPhone that uses the iPad as the board in the middle, and each person has their individual rack on their phone. There have been many jokes about this:

But Scrabble was the 5th highest grossing iPad app for the 2010 – so there is clearly a market of people willing to pay 10 dollars for it.
If 2010 is the year of the tablets, then 2011 could be the year that we see even further seamless interactions across devices.

Tune in for the next instalment: 4. A Re-Focus on Non-Smartphones

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