Since the age of the app began in 2008, the impact of smartphone and tablet technology on modern life has been remarkable.
This year alone, there will be over 100 billion app downloads worldwide, with global revenues of $26 billion. By 2017, annual downloads are projected to reach 268 billion, generating $77 billion in revenue (source: Gartner).
From bringing gaming to the masses to changing our relationship with geographic space, mobile apps have changed the way we live forever, and will continue to do so in innovative and surprising ways.
For now, let’s take a look at 6 apps that have had a lasting impact on our world and on ourselves at Integrated Change…
The Angry Birds phenomenon began with the release of the original iOS version in December 2009. Since then, the various versions of the game have amassed billions of downloads across all platforms, and Angry Birds has become synonymous with mobile gaming. Finishing what Nintendo started with the Wii, Rovio (the company behind Angry Birds) created a game so accessible, engaging and addictive that everyone from your neighbour to your nan has had a go. Indeed, Angry Birds is so popular that it has evolved into an entire entertainment franchise – there’s even a 3D movie on the way in 2016, directed by Hollywood heavyweight Fergal Reilly (Spider-Man 2).
Google Maps remains the definitive service for mapping the world around us, both on desktop and mobile. Its accuracy, scope and ease-of-use is unrivalled, allowing us to chart a path through unfamiliar streets almost anywhere in the world. Heck, it even helped my insurance company to prove liability against another party in a road accident – that was a major result.
Some suggest this may have long-term, evolutionary implications for our innate ability to navigate, but the fact remains that getting from A to B has never been easier.
The way we consume music rarely stays the same for long – whilst there’s still plenty to be said for the authentic analogue joy of listening to a great record on vinyl, that’s not much use when you’re on the train, or you need to create a temporary bubble of privacy at work so you can focus on that crucial report. The dawn of the MP3 was a paradigm shift in the way we listen to music, but even the idea of filling up an iPod with a carefully chosen selection of tracks is beginning to seem archaic already. Now, thanks to Spotify, anyone with a smartphone or tablet and an internet connection can instantly access around 20 million tracks and stream whatever they fancy listening to with an effortless tap of the screen. Wherever you are, whatever musical mood you’re in, Spotify puts it all on a plate.
150 million people use Instagram every month (more than Twitter), and the Instagram community has posted over 16 billion photos to date (more than twice the number on Flickr). 55 million new photos are shared every single day on Instagram, and there are 1.2 billion daily ‘likes’.
Nothing else epitomises the visual culture we live in better than this – we are documenting our lives and our surroundings more actively than ever before, and we’re filtering every photo like it’s going out of fashion!
Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony” or “witness”) is an open source platform for “democratising information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories,” that was born out of the Kenyan crisis in 2008. Ushahidi started as a website where users could view eyewitness reports of violence plotted on a Google map. Since then, the platform has been used for everything from helping with the humanitarian effort after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to monitoring Armenia’s parliamentary elections in 2012. Ory Okolloh – Co-founder of Ushahidi – is now Google’s Manager of Policy for Africa.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Twitter’s influence on society has been simply immense. The way people use Twitter has had deep-reaching consequences in the real world, both positive and negative. During the Arab Spring, Twitter was a key tool used by protesters to organise their activities in real time. Increasingly, news stories break on Twitter as people on the ground tell the world what’s happening before the reporters arrive. Information has never travelled faster than now. But not all of that information is a force for good – Twitter is also home to cyberbullying and celebrity breakdowns, and many people wonder whether the ‘Twitterisation’ of mass-communication is slowly making us all stupid. That’s an important question, for sure, but what’s beyond doubt is that the world is a different place thanks to Twitter.
So there you have it. The six apps that we think have changed the world. What would your list look like?