Have you ever asked someone, “what are your favorite apps?” You generally get a very enthusiastic response. So let me get mine out of the way: Yelp, Pandora, Skype, Dropbox, Kayak, Instagram, PayPal, Penultimate, and yes, just like Alec Baldwin, I too am addicted to Words with Friends. Find yourself thinking of yours now? These little rounded boxes seem to capture something that most other techie things just don’t for me. They seem to strike just the right balance between form and function. But what is it, specifically, that gets people so excited about this topic?
First is convenience. Hard for me to imagine that anyone would argue against the virtue of convenience…but why then does it seem to be missing from so many other parts of our world? Are people furiously working on making things more convenient? We all know of one “fruity” little company that has set the consumer, and now business, standard based on this. However, I think convenience is often overlooked for power or function. I believe it’s that supreme focus on convenience that has made mobile a relevant part of life in 2012. I always have this little screen with me, in between meetings, when I’m on the train, when I’m lying in bed, etc. It’s just always so easy.
Next is experience. A lot has been written about user experience, especially as it relates to mobile and apps, so I’ll try not to be redundant. I get confused when people take such a strong stance against native apps in favor of mobile web. I don’t doubt mobile web will catch up but that’s just the point, the mobile web is catching up to something apps have already figured out. Limiting the scope to specific, purposeful tasks ARE what allow apps to feel like such a powerful experience. Furthermore some apps have made their online counterparts completely obsolete to me, like my banking app. Keep it simple, keep it clean.
Finally, it’s doing more than I ever could before. When I fire up my Flixter or Yelp apps, I’m not only checking show times or reading reviews, both things I absolutely love to do…but it’s doing so much more for me. Those apps are helping me make plans in real time, with loads of my preferences already built in. These apps are just so much more powerful because of all the extra information being taken into account at that very moment in time and place. Simple, yet powerful.
So what’s next? I’m really excited to see “business” apps step up. Maybe some things will just never resonate at the level of ‘angry birds’ or maybe we all have a functional app limit, analogous to the magical number 7, based on our capacity limit to process information. Regardless, a lot of companies are going to spend a lot of time and money to make their apps much more engaging. I’m looking forward to seeing and using the ones that “get it”.