For the last 10 years, news feeds have been the main way the mainstream user interface to discover interesting and relevant digital content.Today, news feeds, from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, are surfacing the interesting news and moments fromyour social network and favorite sources.
This is about to change. The push notifications on the lock screen of your personal mobile device are turning your lock screen into the new newsfeed. The lock screen is thus becoming the pivotal interface to access and experience any of the updates and content that you consider to beworth noticing.
Therefore, your lock screen and your mobile device, not the apps, become the nexus for all the personal data flows, feeding machine learningalgorithms soon running also on your personal hardware.
This is a fundamental change. It will change the way your digital experience is personalized. It will change the way AI systems can learn fromyou. And it will change the power balance between the big industry behemoths such as Facebook, Google and Apple.
Battle for the lock screen
Weve had push notifications bubbling under for some time now. Back in 2014, Christopher Mims of The Wall Street Journal predicted a bigsuccess to the Yo app because of the way it used the simple power of push notifications.
Yo didnt rise to the occasion, but the applications and influence of push notifications has been growing ever since. Today, the landscape for push notificationsis changing rapidly. Both Android and iOS have introduced updates on push features in a considerably fast pace.
Notifications are transforming from simple text-based boxes into adaptive elements that allow a richer and more nuanced experience, thus-calledrich notifications. Designers and developers are embracing these new possibilities, enabling a more engaging user experience. Todaysnotifications can contain text formatting, bigger images, video and updating infographics, as well as interactive features such as sharing. As a result,users are consuming more and more content directly on their lock screen.
The lock screen has become the place where your attention needs to be caught. And thus, every app is racing to invent more meaningful andengaging notifications. Nic Newman from Oxfords Reuters Institute calls this the battle for the lockscreen. In the process, applications are turning into micro-platforms that can provide notifications as branded and optimized mini-products.
From rich notifications to smart notifications
The new richer interactions on your lock screen presents a new user interface paradigm and will have a major affect on personalization.
By appearing automatically on your lock screen, push notifications enable interesting things to find you, rather than the other way around. At the same time, the lock screen isnt tiedinto presenting things in a chronological order. Push notifications allow you to experience things ambiently: notifications materialize on your lockscreen automatically without your explicit action.
Importantly, you do not need to open the app to access content. Today, notifications from a news app allow you to follow thedeveloping news event directly on your lock screen. You can participate in a conversation, check photos, watch a live video and share contentwithout opening the app.
With a personalized lock screen feed your device has the potential to get truly smart and personal.
As weve seen in the news feeds of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, personalization algorithms are needed to curate the continuously growingflow of updates. Soon your lock screen is filtered by personalization algorithms, too.
Already, as peoples interactions are moving from the apps to the lock screen, both iOS and Android have started to automatize the waythings are presented and accessed on the lock screen. Android provides automatically triggered smart notification bundles that collect togetheruseful notifications. iPhone highlights apps based on your personal context, such as time and location. On both platforms, widgets are part ofthis development, serving richer interactions and more content without opening the app.
As an extension of you, your personal mobile device contains all your apps, thus making it a treasure trove of personal data. As an interface, the lock screenmakes it possible to combine the data of your app-specific interactions with the rich contextual data provided by your device.
Concretely, the lock screen will introduce a new algorithmic layer for personalization. The lock screen captures your social interactions andcontent consumption patterns, your favorite apps, movies, videos, music and much more. This rich data will be used to feed machine learningsystems to make personal suggestions and recommendations more relevant and contextual.
Soon your lock screen will filter push notifications actively and automatically, deciding which updates, suggestions, messages, apps, movies,recipes and ads are visible to you. With a personalized lock screen feed your device has the potential to get truly smart and personal.
From smart notifications to personal AI
When the interactions on your lock screen become richer, the data they generate becomes richer, too. Your mobile device will learn fromeverything you do more accurately than ever before.
This introduces a new opportunity to start really understanding you as a unique individual and thus go beyond the existing personalization gaps. Any individual app, even Facebook, couldnt and cant achievethis today (note: Facebook tried unsuccessfully to create their own mobile device).
Personal hardware is becoming an essential part of personalization and machine learning.
As Gary Marcus, the founder of Geometric Intelligence and NYU professor has pointed out, AI systems should be able to learn from alesser amount of data. They should be able to learnlike a child, continuously, iteratively and from everything, being able to generalize, apply and extrapolate these learnings in a useful way.
The personalized lock screen creates a unique interface connecting you and your personal AI running on your most personal device.
What if the missing piece for creating such a machine learning system has been a personal AI an algorithmic angel, if you will living and running on your most personal hardware, thus being able to learnwith you like a child would.
Such a personal AI running and evolving with you on your personal device is taught and fed continuously by your rich interactions andcontextual data. It evolves by iterating itself based on your feedback and personal patterns.
While learning directly from you, personal AI canutilize specialized internal and external agents that inhabit various digital environments, simultaneously utilizing the computing power in thecloud. In addition, these individual agents can process and provide domain-specific data, information and recommendations, from stock markettips to optimized travel options. The best versions of your personal AI collaborate and compete to evolve into better versions of themselves.
Who controls your personal AI?
Everything that happens on the lock screen is captured and can be used to enhance your experience not directly by Facebook and other apps,but mainly by Google and Apple. Google Assistant and Siri will get smarter faster.
Google is already bringing machine learning into their devices using their own algorithms and hardware. Simultaneously, they are offeringdeveloper tools to optimize notifications. Apple is following suit. Samsung is trying to keep up with its recent acquisition of Viv, the next-gen AIassistant.
Will personal AI become your algorithmic angel, making sure you maintain your personal agency in tomorrows algorithmic reality? Or will it justturn your personal device into an ultimate marketing experience, thus trying to affect every decision you make?
The new age of personalized lock screen and personal AI makes the idea of algorithmic angels, your personally controlled algorithms, moretimely than ever. Ethical committees and clauses are starting, but they dont suffice. As our decision-making is augmented by intelligent machine learningsystems, we need explainable algorithms, interfaces and methods to guide and control these smart entities in an explicit and comprehensibleway.
The lock screen as a user interface provides a new interface to do so.
What if you swipe far enough left on your iPhone to see the settings and preferences of your personal AI? What if you can access variousversions of these AIs and decide which one is active for a particular moment just by swiping your lock screen? Maybe you can have amundane chat about the reasoning behind your AIs suggestions, or then you use intuitive gestures, haptics and sounds to communicate witheach other in a mutually comprehensible manner.
The ultimate conversational UI wont be an app or a bot that you need to open or call for. Its something thats present and available all thetime, engaging in a continuous dialog with you and your digital and physical environments.
The personalized lock screen creates a unique interface connecting you and your personal AI running on your most personal device. This opensup completely new opportunities for designing next-generation human-machine communication methods and interfaces that can be applied frommobile devices to AR and VR environments. Simultaneously it is the next step to augment human and machine thinking in an inseparable way.