By Matt Owen
Creating a successful app is an incredibly difficult task, whichever platform you are using.
For every super-viral Candy Crush there’s a thousand zero download zombie apps littering the floor of the app store.
So what makes a great app? I recently took to Twitter (via an app naturally) to find out what busy digital people loved about apps…
A question for you Twitter – what’s the best/most used app you’ve downloaded in the past month? Any function.
— Econsultancy (@Econsultancy) December 5, 2013
Save time FTW
Many of our Tweeters underlined a simple fact: People are busy. When every second counts you want to make efficient use of time available, not hang around at a rainy bus stop or being crushed on the platform at the station, waiting for a train that never arrives.
Out in the real world (or ‘meatspace’ if you prefer) there’s often a paucity of information, and even when it is available it comes from diverse sources, meaning we have to waste valuable time hunting down timetables, lining up at ticket offices, peering at departures boards and more.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of this was available in one place?
@LondonKirsty @Econsultancy #CityMapper is all this and more – can’t recommend it enough! http://t.co/FyPGV07MYX
— Tony Stewart (@TSDigi) December 5, 2013
City Mapper is uniquely useful as it combines multiple travel options with a range of info including live updates, prices and even guides to the calories you’ll burn off if you choose to pedal rather than ride. It’s tough to be all things to all people, but this app manages it with aplomb.
This wasn’t the only travel app that popped up though:
@Econsultancy Tube Map – got to be! Plan routes, journey times absolute lifesaver sometimes!
— Duncan Gosling (@DamovoDuncan) December 5, 2013
@Econsultancy I’m telling you… it’s A LIFE SAVER
— Kirsty Marrins (@LondonKirsty) December 5, 2013
@Econsultancy Can’t beat Nokia Maps, I don’t know how iPhone users manage! Although there do need to be more Windows 8 phone apps.
— Gemma Downing (@GemmaDowning) December 5, 2013
(Also known as good old Nokia Maps)
were all hugely popular, while for those travelling farther afield Trip Advisor and several apps with that all-important ‘offline map’ mode came in handy:
@Econsultancy the @tripadvisor offline app. Was so useful on a trip to Barcelona recently!
— Rebecca Hesilrige (@BeckyHesilrige) December 5, 2013
In short, we’re busy, we don’t want to waste time trying to get to our next appointment, so accurate on the move info is super important.
Educate and entertain:
@Econsultancy Spotify & the London Bus App – perfect combination for that bus stop wait.
— Rory Natkiel (@rorynatkiel) December 5, 2013
However much we reduce our commute though, we’ll still inevitably be travelling for a few minutes a day. So how do we fill those minutes? If you’re anything like our Twitter audience, you want to be doing something useful.
Once again, our followers want apps that combine information.
We’re all curaters these days, so apps that filter and surface useful information rule. People who repied tended to focus on two areas – receiving news, or getting on top of their emails.
@Econsultancy Its been @asana for us. it cuts down email traffic within our team and very satisfying when you tick off a task!
— Exeter Family (@exeterfamily) December 5, 2013
@Econsultancy I like the @umanoapp – reads me some of my favourite news stories and trends in digital business when I’m on the go
— PB (@PJBenedicto) December 5, 2013
First up, the ever-popular IFTTT (IF This, Then That) made an appearance.
@Econsultancy for Londoners I really like @CitymapperLON. Also loving the @IFTTT app.
— Jonathan MacDonald (@macdonaldj) December 5, 2013
Possibly the ultimate curation app, IFTTT allows users to use simple recipes to automate a variety of tasks. For example, IF ‘I update Twitter’ THEN ‘post the same update to Facebook’. It’s a massive time saver. Have a look at some useful recipes or use this one to get a new recipe delivered to your email inbox every day.
Just providing info isn’t enough though. We also need to access that information when it best suits us. Which is where Pocket comes in:
@Econsultancy I’m really loving @Pocket lately. So, so useful.
— Dan Smith (@itsdansmith) December 5, 2013
Simple to use and possessed of a simple design that loads quickly on any device, Pocket is a great way to save and sort information from multiple sources;a Pinterest for articles.
It’s clearly gained huge traction over the past few months as well – here’s a screenshot of our analytics showing the rise in traffic from Pocket:
Gather and share
Evernote and Wunderlist
Evernote was also very popular with users,and a number of list apps popped up, with Wunderlist being your go-to organising app:
@Econsultancy Wunderlist – I use it to plan all of my tasks for work. Couldn’t love without it
— Philip Storey (@philipstorey) December 5, 2013
These apps also allow the gathering and organisation of info, but once you’ve got everything in order, you need to share it. Several social apps popped up here, including Snapchat, Instagram and Buffer, but there was a definite focus on business too.
Refresh straddles the line between the two, pulling in additional relevant information about your contacts:
Collaboration was a strong theme too, with Citrix’s Sharefile application proving popular, while Asana popped up as a handy open collaboration tool that took some of the email pain out of team projects:
Help users relax
Time to chill out. Whether it’s working out or heading down the front at a gig, our followers know how to have fun. Make sure you check out:
@Econsultancy Deffo @gighub_ for me. Great tool to find local gigs!
— Josh Newton (@albinjindu) December 5, 2013
My Fitness Pal
@Econsultancy for me it’s got to be the @MyFitnessPal app. Easy to use and it is working for me already! Fab-u-lous!
— Steph Marshall Power (@steph_m_power) December 5, 2013
@Econsultancy Duolingo. Hadn’t studied Spanish since high school and it’s been a surprisingly effective, easy and addictive way to learn.
— Ana Jenkins (@anajenkins) December 5, 2013
If your phone isn’t already creaking from the download strain, you should also try the following, which our users recommended for email, banking, education, image sharing and more:
TU Go by O2
Alfred for Mac
So, want to make a perfect app? It should save time, entertain, curate, inform and share (and maybe show you where to get a beer at the end of a long day too). Easy!
We know there’s plenty more we’ve missed out there. As always, let us know your own opinions in the comments below.