What’s in an ‘app’?

It took until the 6th version of the iPhone (iPhone 5) for me to make the switch from my trusty Nokia smartphone, to the much cooler, more sophisticated world of the iPhone. With the switch came the question, “What apps do you have?”. I don’t know if I’ve spent too much time with my Grandma, but to me a phone is very much still for making calls and sending text messages, although I do now thoroughly enjoy being able to check my emails and bank balance in an instant. And this I guess is what ‘apps’ are all about, making life easier, ensuring we’re absolutely connected and providing hours upon hours of procrastination techniques and entertainment. So what exactly is an app?

In his blog Ian Bogost draws on a comment sourced from a Gamasutra article about the new Mac App Store:

‘I think the primary thing that Apple did was create and market the concept of the “app” as a $1-5 unit. They’re doing to software what they did to music: they broke it up into little pieces and then gave consumers a nice place to shop for the pieces. Before, the channels of distribution were much clunkier and inert. This is very much a good thing for smaller devs. Apple has removed so much of the headache of marketing (“Just find it on the AppStore!”), setting up payment systems, installation, etc.’ (Source: http://www.bogost.com/blog/what_is_an_app.shtml) 

In my opinion this sums up the technology aptly, way before the ‘app’ itself was invented or created we were playing games, creating documents, editing photos online, on our phones and on our computers. Although the ‘app’ has introduced a world- where essentially many applications we have used previously are organised into a neat and easy to navigate store, which can be searched for in an instant and downloaded onto our phones and computers just as quickly. Apple, as in my opinion it has done in many instances, turned a technology that has already existed into a ‘new’ phenomenon that’s easier to use, therefore marketable and somehow inevitably ‘cool’.  Of course the ease of accessibility and the fast paced downloading, can only be viewed in my opinion as a pro the world of ‘apps’ that Apple has created. This sentiment is supported by the following statistics, that clearly demonstrate the massive success of the product:

Every day, 46 million mobile applications are downloaded from Apple’s App Store, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers partner Mary Meeker.’ (Source: Meghan Kelly 2012, Accessed at: http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/30/app-store-downloads/)

So what are the cons? Well in my opinion it rests in the ease in creating an app and therefore the absolute masses of ‘products’ that appear as a result. Because of the huge number of apps that are available finding the one that is appropriate for your specific need can take a number of attempts. Also breaking into the world of ‘apps’ a creator can prove just as difficult, as Kelly of venturebeat.com reflects:

Many of app developers say that it’s difficult to be found in the sea of billions of apps that live in the App Store. Crawling up to a “top 25″ spot on one of Apple’s app lists, is also difficult, and based on download numbers.’ (Source: Meghan Kelly 2012, Accessed at: http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/30/app-store-downloads/)

It cannot be denied that in many cases ‘apps’ have the ability to make our lives easier, we can check the weather anywhere around the world with a click of a button, connect with friends anywhere around the world in a second, check and send emails from our smartphones and track the progress of public transport. But it must be noted that not all ‘apps’ improve the quality of our lives, many merely occupy the ‘app’ store with a very limited user base, making the process of finding the ‘app’ that’s right for us often a longer process than what it may have to be.