Too often the criticism with technology is that it makes us more lazy and unfocused. We often see this play out in social situations where people spend most of their time on their phone.
But, can technology actually make us smarter?
For technology to make us more focused and smarter it has to invoke some kind of curiosity. Since curiosity is the cornerstone of motivation, we can design better tech to create more curiosity and more focus.
Focus, in itself, is hard to maintain, it requires motivation to do so.
Most of technology revolves around dopamine hits, the reward cycle. Shorten the cycle, and you get more active users and a less focused society.
However, if you involve more curiosity, you get more exploratory behavior, which creates more focus in different areas.
If you take reading for example, not too many people enjoy reading, but some of the best writers know how to keep curiosity alive and people can't put the book down. One of the best books that I've read was actually on grammar. One of the most "boring" books out there. (pdf) But, the author knew how to keep readers engaged.
The basic sum of it is, "Is this going somewhere?"
This creates better engagement. It's similar to playing video games, there is a certain level of challenge with an element of curiosity, can you beat the next level, can you succeed?
So for app making, how do you create more curiosity so that you create more focused and less distracted users?
It's mainly adding - interest, better copywriting, and making things simpler.
Interest: Apps that revolve around topics people naturally have an interest in - fitness, sports, hobbies. It can also involve adding things like popular people, captivating pictures and movement.
Copywriting: Very good copywriting involves getting people curious and interested. Some of the best copywriters know how to stir emotions in people on topics that they don't care about - like thermostats.
Simpler: Complex topics, like learning a new language or taxes can be made simpler so that there is less frustration. I created a course in Mandarin Chinese that broke down sentence patterns to make it easier to learn the grammar and language - almost without thinking about it.
If you add these elements into your app, you can create better engagement.