Apps are everywhere. We have had them for around 20+ years. We just used different names; application, desktop applications, web apps, apps etc. The iPhone just accelerated the usage by introducing the first "real" smartphone.
Now we have had apps for a while now. And in the meanwhile we've had a lot many technological advances. Cloud technology, Faster internet, AI/ML, Blockchain technology etc. But these are all pieces of the puzzle to what is next!
The answer: Experiences
Apps are usually a self-containing and self-sufficient piece of software. This is central to how the app is developed, tested and shipped to users. Then came along the next step: An ecosystem of apps and super apps. Google has created this suite of apps that work well together and the same goes for Apple and Microsoft. Even in such ecosystems there is an underlying factor of homogeneity, in these cases being the developer of these apps are the same in each ecosystem. The key point of differentiating are the features of the app. And that is a paradigm that will soon reach it's saturation point. There is an app for almost everything. And of course apps will still be continued to be developed and perfected over the coming years.
But "Experiences" are apps that are part of a wider use-case. Experiences span across devices, times of day and contexts. If I were to boil it down:
Experience = Multiple Devices in different contexts + Applications on these devices (fulfilling different contexts) + Common API
The share button is probably one of the earliest "experience" that was built in the smartphone world. No matter which app you are using and in what context it is, you can share content between apps in the same way. This is possible due to the common feature built into the operating system itself.
Single sign-on was the next closest thing to what experiences could be. A single button that most websites and apps have that makes the login process seamless for the user and makes the KYC procedure for businesses much simpler.
I believe the next step in experiences will be different apps (from different developers) being able to talk to each other. Apps like Zapier and IFTTT make that possible with their integration wizardy of various APIs. But the amount of integration you could is still very limited by the developers of each app.
Apple has shown that owning the full stack including the ecosystem allows you to develop such experiences that is simply not possible by using a suite of third party apps. For example, Continuity, AirPlay, Universal clipboard, AirDrop, Hand-off feature etc.
To own the full stack in the automotive world is much harder, but that's for another post.