I’ve been struggling for a bit now to really understand the significance of “cards” as a new unit of interaction. Fred Wilson and Benedict Evans have both discussed the significance of cards, but I feel like neither has been able to provide a concrete example that really highlights why a card isn’t simply a design trend.
Several years ago Facebook released Open Graph Protocol. The idea was in part that any noun (person, place or thing) on Facebook could have its own Facebook Page, and thus, all the corresponding meta data that accompanied that Page. To me, the notion of cards takes this one step further.
Imagine a time, a few years from now, where you text a friend on WhatsApp to ask if they’ve yet seen James Bond 24. In vision of the future, WhatsApp would recognize that James Bond 24 is a noun — specifically a noun that means a movie, and thus the text – James Bond 24 – would automagically appear as a hyperlink. When clicked on, you would see the movie’s card — allowing you to interact with the movie in any number of ways: purchase tickets, watch a trailer, send to a friend, etc — all without needing to go to another app. In some ways it would mimic the options one currently has by clicking on a place in Google Maps (see image above). Cards basically replace websites or native apps. Apps within apps.
That is the most concrete example I can think of as to why cards could matter — a lot.