Smartphones have become such an integral part of everyday life that we easily take them for granted. Whether it’s taking notes in a meeting, setting a reminder to feed the cat, or purchasing a lottery ticket, smartphones and their apps have become a crutch upon which the modern human relies heavily. It’s worthwhile to remember that the App Store and Google Play Store have only been around for just under ten years, but their offerings have advanced so much. Let’s take a moment to look back at the brief history of smartphone apps, and be thankful.
One of the main features that revolutionized smartphones was the introduction of apps. People were suddenly able to personalize their phones with features that were perfectly suited to their everyday lives. When the App Store launched in 2008, there were 10million downloads in the first weekend, and this simple but effective idea changed the shape of the whole industry.
One of the first ever products that really showed the potential of how far these smartphone apps could go was Fitbit. This handy tool enabled users to measure the amount of steps they took in a day, the distance they travelled, and even how many calories they burned. Fitness apps became a popular genre, as did games. Gaming apps quickly became the best way to kill a few minutes or compete with friends. Angry Birds, Cookie Run, Candy Crush, and Diamond Dash all gave players a fun and addictive way to play and share games with friends via Facebook and other social media.
There have also been plenty of apps that have served to make our lives easier. Instead of queuing up in the supermarket to buy a ticket for the lottery, players can now use an international lottery app to buy tickets for huge jackpots all over the world. There are apps that can be used to control home entertainment systems, check that you have remembered to set the house alarm, and organize your day into a neat list of manageable tasks.
In addition to all this there are news apps, sports apps, betting apps, dating apps, and apps for absolutely everything else. But will this continue? Or will smartphones soon take off in another direction? Looking at the figures, it seems highly unlikely. In 2013, App Store sales topped $10billion. And social apps like WhatsApp – which was bought by Facebook for $19billion – and Snapchat (along with Facebook’s own messenger) are used by millions of people daily. Snapchat, for instance, has 700 million photos shared every day.
Apps are continuing to generate enormous revenues. In 2014 it was calculated that they had generated more than $15 billion for Apple’s 9 million registered developers. This simple idea, that has taken the world by storm, looks set to continue being the way users get software for their life-enhancing devices.
With technology moving rapidly forward, the next step is for apps to start being used in conjunction with other items of technology. Already, wearable tech such as fitness watches are linked to smartphone apps to provide data reports. Soon it will be the same with virtual and augmented reality. The app world is set to get bigger and better.