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The Planet of the Apps

Did you know that as of the first quarter of 2019there are 2.8 million apps available for android and 2.2 million for iOS users in the world? Now, that’s a lot of apps we’re talking about.

There is literally an app for almost everything nowadays.

For example, the “Drunk Locker” is an app where you can block specific people on your phone from being contacted for 48 hours.

It basically stops you from calling your ex while drunk on a Friday night at 2 AM, per se. Genius, no?

Also, did you know that there is an app that does literally nothing?

This app is called “Nothing” (obviously) and that’s exactly what it does.

If you open it there’s just an empty window, that does, you guessed it, nothing.

Of course, there are hundreds of thousands other apps that are a lot more useful than this!

Such as Google assistant, Shazam, Spotify, MyFitnessPal and many more.

Since their creation, apps have become a huge part of our daily lives, and pretty much shaped the way we live and operate today.

We use them to navigate us while driving, entertain us, remind us things, and they can even make calls and send text messages on our behalf when we ask them to.

Our lives revolve around this kind of technology so much that we even use it unconsciously, like when we simply “google” something or play a video on YouTube.

What’s App?

The word “app” is an abbreviation for “application”.

There are three main types of apps: desktop, mobile, and web.

This piece of software runs through a web browser, on your computer, and on any electronic device whether you are connected to the internet or not.

Desktops have a more “complete” type of apps compared to the mobile and hold full features of programs.

Web apps also consist of these features but need an internet connection in order to fully operate.

Desktop and Web apps need a mouse and keyboard along with a large display in order to work, but with mobile apps, you only need your fingers or stylus on a small screen.

The modern term of the word “app” if most often referred to mobile applications, and its typically used to describe anything that isn’t a full-fledged software program.

Interestingly, mobile apps go way back before the iPhone and Android.

More specifically, the first smartphone was launched in 1994 by IBM and had over 10 inbuilt apps.

Although there was no “app store” as we now call it, IBM’s Simon had an address book, a calculator, calendar, mail, note pad, and a sketch pad.

Phone App

It might not sound like a big deal to us today, but 25 years ago it really was!

With apps, everything is a click away and based on current analytics it’s safe to say that the app business is flourishing.

Statista’s search claims that mobile apps are expected to generate $189 billion in revenue by 2020.

From banking to the plain entertainment of watching funny cat videos online, the need to do things at a certain speed has never been as important as it is today.

Apps and Downs

The internet has evolved and keeps evolving (you can read about it in our blog post: “How excited should you be for 5G”) and we want things done fast and efficiently.

But has this combination of “need for speed” and smart technology changed our lives for better or worse?

Well, now, this is up for debate.

Buildfire.com stated that 21% of millennials open an app 50+ times per day, and 49% of people open an app 11+ times each day.

A whopping 57% of all digital media usage comes from mobile apps, and the average smartphone owner uses 30 apps each month.

These numbers are indeed high, but it wouldn’t be fair to jump into conclusions.

So, why is this happening and how is it affecting us?

Here are the positives and negatives of apps in our lives.

We Need to Know Every-Little-Thing

Nowadays we have the immediate need to access information on everything.

From reading an important news article to suddenly trying to remember the name of the actress who played Hillary on the “Price of Bel-Air” for example, we have the urge to know things on the spot.

Therefore, thanks to apps and the internet, we can do it effortlessly.

Chris Morris, a specialist to CNBC, said: “Technology has improved and streamlined our day-to-day activities, disrupting the status quo and making things easier.”

Thus, one of the many reasons apps are used is to further enrich our knowledge on a variety of subjects.

Now, this doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Connection and Communication

Thankfully, you no longer have to actually call someone up to communicate with them.

With mobile apps, messaging and social networking are done on a whole new level when wanting to communicate with others.

Easier and faster than ever before, you can stay in touch with friends and family living in different countries through apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Viber, FaceTime etc.

According to the World Economic Forum, 30 million messages are sent by Facebook every minute.

Back in the day, you had to send letters, wait for days or even weeks to hear back from them, if the letter was properly delivered that is. With messaging apps today, you can contact pretty much anyone and hear back within minutes.

Communication

Messaging apps don’t only bring you closer to friends, but it can also get you new ones.

You can be part of online communities with similar interests to yours, form groups where content can be shared and views can be exchanged.

From politics to binge-watching the same Netflix series, you can get to know people from all around the world.

And don’t even get us started on dating.

Through apps like Tinder, your significant other could be a few “swipes” away.

(Remember though, you have to be careful with dating apps for safety reasons so here are a few tips.)

Increase in Work Productivity

Believe it or not, apps actually increase productivity.

How many times have you answered an urgent e-mail, or took an important phone call on a weekend?

Also, mobile apps for work specifically can make employees a lot more engaged when using modern tools.

According to Gallup, highly engaged teams are 21% more productive and 22% more profitable than their non-engaged counterparts.

Mobile apps have therefore made it possible to work remotely and thus increase the employees’ productivity.

Simplify Daily Tasks

Want to buy movie tickets? There’s an app for that.

Want to order pizza? Guess what, there’s an app for that too.

You can check the weather or the traffic before you head off to work, or you can search for an uplifting music playlist for a long ride home.

You can install a camera in your home and check up on your pets when you’re away, or control electrical appliances such as the vacuum cleaner or the coffee machine.

All these apps have made everything so time-saving and eliminated the need to physically go out for boring chores.

Who wants to wait in a queue for over 30 minutes at the bank on a Monday morning or stay on the phone for an hour randomly pressing 1 or 2 depending on the bot on the other end, in order to actually talk to someone for a minor problem?

Well…No one.

Entertainment

Apps play a critical role when it comes to entertainment.

The entertainment sector can be a vague category, as it consists of many different things. Its where we turn to relax, have a laugh, and more generally take our mind off of things.

Of course, you can do things outdoors, but you can also listen to an upbeat playlist, take a photo of that mesmerizing scenery you’re at and enjoy your coffee all at the same time.

There are numerous entertaining apps for your every need.

YouTube, for instance, is an entertainment app that can teach you stuff depending on the video you’re watching, and simultaneously relax you.

Spotify, another entertainment app, is where you discover all sorts of music playlists, podcasts etc.

Spotify

You can do yoga, meditate, read digital books, learn a new language, keep track of your diet, and for those who want extra fun, there are thousands of games too!

Entertaining apps can open new horizons and make you more versatile in anything you want.  How amazing is that?!

“Somebody call Security”

No matter how amazing apps are, security is one of the negatives this type of technology has.

Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager for Kaspersky in Africa confirmed this by stating that “Apps pose a real problem for mobile users, who give them sweeping permissions but don’t always check security. These are typically free apps found in official app stores that perform as advertised, but also send personal – and potentially corporate – data to a remote server, where it is mined by advertisers or even cybercriminals.”

According to Badenhorst, leaked data is very easy to happen through enterprise-signed mobile apps.

A lot of times the user might not even realise that they agreed to share this information with the specific network, as “mobile malware uses distribution code native to popular mobile operating systems like iOS and Android to spread valuable data across corporate networks without raising red flags”.

Anti-social

It’s quite ironic that social media apps can make you anti-social.

Unfortunately, studies have shown this to be true.

In a “Globe and Mail” article it stated that “smartphones are causing real damage to our minds and relationships, measurable in seconds shaved off the average attention span, reduced brain power, declines in work-life balance and hours less of family time.”

Now, if you think this is too extreme, try to remember a time recently where you went out with friends or family and people weren’t glued on their phones.

Based on Eric-Andrew Gee’s article, in the first five years of the smartphone’s existence, the number of Americans who said the internet use interfered with their family time nearly tripled from 11% to 28%.

Sean Parker, ex-president of Facebook admitted that the platform itself was designed to hook users with spurts of dopamine, a complicated neurotransmitter released when the brain expects a reward and feels happiness.

They are basically causing our brains to feel “happiness” through likes, comments, profile visits, and the overall online attention.

Parker also stated “It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

He explained that when Facebook was being developed the objective was: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to upload more content.

Your actions are then used to store the data of your searches and interests, in order to show you even more relative content to keep you hooked.

As a result, you are part of a never-ending social media loop you eventually can’t live without.

Cyberbullying

Bullying has been an issue since the beginning of humankind.

Name-calling, rumour-spreading, and even physical pain is caused between people of all ages, in all countries of the world.

This nasty action transformed with technology and is now a very common issue for online communities.

What makes cyberbullying worse, is that it can’t be easily tracked. Face accounts online are created every minute, fake information is used, and you probably need a lot of experienced help to track cyberbullies.

Cyber bullying

In 2018, 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, 42% of teens said they have been called offensive names online, and about a third (32%) of teens have said that someone spread false rumours about them on the internet.

Personal information of both adults and underage teens is being leaked daily, and it is getting out of control. Many social media platforms have the “report” option for accounts or content that are unsuitable, but more needs to be done.

It’s All App to You

Apps can be very helpful and that is a fact, and the high numbers in downloads show no signs of slowing down.

The world is more connected than ever, there’s a whole new perspective on the business and marketing industries, and it’s so entertaining, it can definitely kill time.

However, it’s not all fun and games. You should try to keep a balance between your online life and your offline life. Everyone needs literal human interaction, and it should not be replaced entirely with technology.

Combining smart apps with your daily life without being completely consumed by it, would be ideal.

As the unforgettable Prince once stated, “Technology is cool, but you’ve got to use it as opposed to letting it use you.”

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