Text-Based Concierge: New Service Projects Work Like Magic

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Imagine a service that could bring you anything you want, no questions asked. Magic is an app that does just that. By sending a text along with your request, it is possible to get (almost) anything done for a price. Magic is one of many innovations that are fueling the new on-demand urban economy.

The business of bringing people what they want, when they want it, is booming. It is the age of instant gratification. There is a new era of customers who want everything right away. With Magic, customers only have to send a text message and their wish comes true. There is an army of trained operators standing by 24/7 waiting to help you satisfy your late night pizza craving or find someone to drop of your dry cleaning.

Unlike traditional apps, Magic is a text-based service that does not exist on a particular interface. It does not have a website or a mobile application. These new “invisible apps” offer an interesting alternative to more traditional smartphone apps. Their purpose is to be as useful as possible without cramming your phone’s memory. Invisible apps give control back to the user. Magic is only accessible through text message. You can send a message whenever you want, without updates or push-notifications.

While on-demand delivery apps such as Magic can be a lifesaver when it comes to picking up groceries and ordering takeout, many people do not always view it so positively. They argue that technology is making us anti-social. It has us glued to our smartphones rather than chit chat with our friends at dinner. If on-demand services are easily available to us over the internet or on our smartphones, people will no longer have the need to go to the supermarket or the bank and will inevitably live more indoors and online.

“Through our use of technology, we’ve become mental speed demons.” explains consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, in her new book “Our sense of time, ability to focus, and capacity for attention have shifted gears.” Our brains are becoming hard wired for instant gratification. But is it change for the better?

There are a wide variety of on-demand apps being developed over the last couple of years. Postmates is a delivery service headquartered in San Francisco. It connects customers with local couriers, who purchase and deliver goods from any restaurant or store in the city. New York City based MakeSpace is an urban storage startup which is transforming the way downtown urbanites are storing their stuff. The service drops off a storage bin to your apartment. You fill it and take a photo of it. When you’re done with it, they pick it up and keep it for you until you need it again.

Photos: Magic

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