The rise of the smartphone has generated a whole new world of services easily accessible within an app. But how many are actually helpful? Niall El-Assaad creator of fuelService, an app-based service supporting disabled drivers, joins us to question the usefulness of apps…
I love technology and especially apps, but how many do I actually find useful? Very few.
I can guess what you might be thinking – app fatigue. Smartphone users around the world are downloading apps, looking at them for a minute and never opening them again before eventually binning them off entirely.
Actually, like most things in life, apps are often a much worse experience for disabled people. I lose interest in many apps because most of the services available simply don’t cater for me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of generic apps that are applicable to disabled people, such as apps to order your shopping or get a takeaway delivered. But there are so many areas where we get excluded.
When it comes to travelling it gets far more complicated. You can book train tickets in seconds and travel immediately. But disabled people usually need to then make extra contact with the train company or station and ask for help days in advance – not much of a service!
Finding deals on hotel rooms is simple and booking takes seconds. Unless you need a disabled room, then you’ll invariably have to book at full price on the hotel’s website or call up to check availability.
One of the first things I learnt when I became disabled was that getting petrol was a very hit and miss experience. So I built fuelService, an app-based service to specifically help disabled drivers find and get assistance with refuelling their cars. Now there are over 1000 petrol stations where you can get help at the click of a button.
It’s not just getting help with refuelling, paying is a big problem as well, but Shell helpfully lets you pay via an app from the comfort of your car.
To me, this all shows how problems can be solved if companies think about it. There are so many ways that tech could help support disabled people if companies rethink how their services work in reality. The possibilities for making life easier are many, and technology can help in a big way.
Is it because companies don’t care? Probably more simply it’s that they don’t know what it is that we need.
There are entrepreneurs everywhere looking for ideas to improve services. And companies should be looking for ways to stand out and better serve their customers.
So, what service or support would you want to simplify your life?
This is a guest contribution by Niall El-Assaad, creator of fuelService. All views expressed here are Niall’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?.