a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Apple and the Widgetification of Everything

Benedict Evans, Frank Chen, and Kyle Russell

Posted June 14, 2016

The world’s most valuable company, Apple, made a number of seemingly incremental announcements at its most recent annual developer’s conference (WWDC) — that Apple Pay is coming to the web; that Siri is being opened up to app developers; that iMessage will suggest emoji; and many other things.

Underneath all these little feature tweaks however is a bigger story, argue a16z’s Benedict Evans, Frank Chen, and Kyle Russell. It’s a story about -ification: the “platformification” of apps available on the Apple operating system (they’ve turned maps into a platform before even Google has); the “widgetification” of everything (using familiar interfaces to ensure continuity across different contexts); and the AI-ification of everyday services (like recognizing faces in photos and predicting, um, emoji).

Add it all up though and it means Apple is focusing a lot more on A.I., just like other big tech companies such as Google and Facebook (and don’t forget Amazon too!). Only Apple is bringing artificial intelligence to the phone — it now also has a neural network API for instance — only interestingly, it’s focusing on doing so at the device, not cloud level. So what does it all mean?