The X App

The future of hyper-centralization

Published July 9, 2023

You will only need one app, and you will be happy.

Instagram allows you to post photos, watch videos, DM, call, shop, and now, tweet (or rather, thread). On Facebook, you can post, message, call, buy, sell, date, plan events, read news, play games. Every major tech company is copy/pasting each other’s best ideas—we encounter the same features across every platform. This was best exhibited by the rapid adaptation of short-form videos across all popular social media networks. After the TikTok boom, Instagram introduced Reels in August 2020, Snapchat came out with Spotlight shortly after, and Youtube launched Shorts in March 2021. The same feature in every app. You don’t have to leave, we will bring everything right to you.

Elon's acquisition of Twitter was intended as a move toward X, the Everything App. No concrete plans have been divulged since, but Elon has been known to speak fondly of WeChat, China's super-app that offers messaging, video and photo sharing, social feed, food delivery, shopping, in-app payments, bill payments, car services, government services, and bank services, among other features. It is unclear if Twitter would be central to this X app—if the products and features would be added onto its current framework or if Twitter itself would be integrated into the structure of a separate platform, as a social media component.

The issue here is that we already have these functions; they are already centralized on our devices. Do we need them to be further centralized, within an app? What benefit does this have? Instead of using my iOS home screen as the point of departure for my user journey, I use the X app home screen. The point of centralization doesn’t seem to make much difference, although merging everything within an app would create a more consistent UX. Every function, feature, and product would be seamlessly integrated into each other. Every service and store would accept X payments. There would be one UI to rule them all. All consistent, all integrated, and no excess choice. No need to choose between Uber and Lyft: X cars are in-app (and they’re all Teslas!)

In the modern day, we are overwhelmed by our endless options. This is demonstrated by the rise and cult following of Trader Joe’s: consumers don’t want to choose between 7 different kinds of caesar salad dressing; they want one, for a fair price, that they know will be good.

Legally, the X app will face challenges due to increasing government regulation over big tech companies. For one company to acquire all features that are integrated into the app may become a problem of monopolization. If the corporation instead builds these products out independently, they will face tough market competition, not to mention the tremendous manpower required to develop so many features. For the X app to be well-received by the public, all aspects must meet our current standards, or alternatively, fully integrate the existing products we already use.

This could conceivably work in a society that isn’t already saturated with choices, but alas, that society is not ours. It is unlikely, though not impossible, for the X app to surpass all of our current apps, patterns, and user choices. It could be the case that the app exceeds our current expectations with half of its features, prompting consumers to use the lesser half out of convenience.

But is our current user system really so inconvenient? Apple Pay works almost everywhere, learning new UI is no issue for the technological generation, and most major social media networks and apps already have some form of integration already. Moreover, we have the freedom to choose between competing products.

The masses have shown that they don’t want endless choice. We want a symbiotic relationship with our technology: we want it to learn our habits and prescribe us with the best option. We see this again in the virality of TikTok, largely due to its algorithm: it picks up on our patterns and serves us what we want.

The era of the single use app feels dead. An app is now a resort—stay here! We have a pool and a beach and restaurants and a bar and a spa and shops and a casino and live entertainment. Everything you need is in stock at the X app, you never have to leave.

The internet used to feel like a never-ending canvas. There was simply too much out there, coming at you from all angles, but out of reach. Access has always been an issue, which quickly evolved into a problem of “marketing.” Delivering your content to the public remains the hardest task to accomplish in the modern day.

Our user patterns are cyclical, encouraged by our software. I open Chrome, I revisit my eight favorite sites. I open my iPhone, I visit my seven favorite apps. I perform my virtual routine: email, Twitter, Discord. These are my launchpads—they are the reference points from which I diverge onto my daily user path. I click links, I read articles, essays, news stories, posts. The X app knows you will stray from it, but it doesn’t matter. The X app is your home base, the focal point of your user journey. It is both the beginning and the end, and you will keep coming back.

Often, I break off from my user routine into side quests: I open a new tab, type into the search bar and traverse from there. These journeys are saved in my browser so I may resume them. I currently have 27 journeys open on my browser—each one very precious to me. I cannot close them, for then, I would forget them. My software is an extension of myself, it knows what I don’t, it holds memories that I have no room for.

I use bookmarks for utility: these are where my single use sites live. Still, there are only 12 slots before they trail behind the black bar of no return—I will never click “see more.” Goodbye to my dearly hidden bookmarks, shelved behind that cursed wall, I’m sure I would’ve loved to have you. We could have had so much fun together. But there is no room for you on my internet.

When I find a useful website, I’m struck with the anxiety that I will forget it. There is no vacancy in my frequently visited slots, and yet, I’m bored. I refresh my Twitter feed hoping for a drop of content. I’m starving for posts. Our user patterns act as muscle memory: I subconsciously hit Command + Tab and type in “tw” before hitting enter. I close the Instagram app on my phone just to open it once more, reflexively. Creativity feels squandered. I know it’s out there, but how do I find it? I open my phone and go to the resort over and over again. Instagram has everything and you will be happy. Friends, enemies, lovers, strangers, photos, stories, videos, reels, shopping. I resent my feed and yet I surrender myself to it. It dominates my reflexes.

We are repetitive beings, yet we want to feel a sense of ultimate freedom. We want the freedom to choose repetition, but we want it on our own terms. This is true in our corporeal lives, as well as our virtual habits. We blame tech companies for creating the boxed-in nature of our current virtual landscape. We want our internet to behold invention, originality, individuality, and progress. But our collective user patterns don’t convey this. We confess our proclivity for routine through our user habits, and our providers build accordingly. The X app will speak to the average user’s need for repetition, for consistency, for curation.

I want to go back again and again. I want to rediscover. I want new content. I want updates. The internet feels like a living, breathing organism that evolves before my eyes, all for me. Why would I want to turn my attention from the X app, where everyone is, where everything is happening? The X app will give you everything you need, and you will be happy.

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USURPATOR is an online magazine sharing essays and interviews about the user experience of our current virtual landscape

Run by @hard_boiledbabe