Original image available at http://upstart.bizjournals.com/news/technology/2013/07/10/5-facts-about-app-stores-5th-birthday.html
It has been a few weeks since we took a broad look at the app industry and made some sort of summary of it, but you may have noticed we have been busy with the social network analysis of the mobile health industry. That is not to mention the two conferences the entire research team have attended in Dublin (the International Association of Media and Communication Research IAMCR) and Perth (Australian and New Zealand Communication Association ANZCA) where we presented our work to date. We are happy to report our research was well received with many new connections being forged across the two week period. But! Back to app news…
The big news this week is the Apple App Store has turned five and to mark the event they have released a suite of apps for free. Given the enormous success of the platform and app generation, it is useful to historicise on the apps that made the store such a success. It is also worth mentioning that iOS7 has emerged amongst the development world, where some of the key developments include an improved Siri, more transparent Command Centre, transparent folders and the introduction of photo filters (interesting yet in no way a threat to Instagram).
As is always the case, privacy issues are rampant in the mobile communication world, especially given the recent hysteria surrounding the whistleblowing activities of former CIA IT consultant Edward Snowden. In the mobile world, we have seen Microsoft begin to pull apps from their platform that are deemed vulnerable. There is also some thinking emerging amongst practitioners, who are beginning to question, are social apps just a little too creepy in how they share your personal information? We are again reminded that free apps are the gateway to your personal privacy of information, where some are suggestions free apps are essentially a modern equivalent of spyware. However, as Kate Raynes-Goldie suggests, it is radical transparency.
If we switch our perspective to the economics of the app environment, there has been some fascinating research released into the app economy in Vietnam, proving an enormous long tail in the concept, development and marketplace relationship. One amazingly interesting website I stumbled across this week is created by b_willer as part of the Visual.ly suite of infographics. I highly recommend this fascinating interaction with some of the most prominent startups of the last ten years.
Once again, chat apps have dominated our communication habits, where the most recent figures indicate that WhatsApp has an active membership of 250 million users. That’s enormous compared with Twitter’s 200 million users. This Wall Street Journal article highlights some of the new movers in the chat app arena. Keeping with shifting cultural habits, interesting to note that apps are having an impact on youth who are rediscovering radio. TuneIn is a type of radio aggregator with more than 40 million users consuming more than 1 billion hours of radio!
Given the recent push for the FDA to finalise its recommendations on the regulation of health apps, it is interesting to read the other side of the debate, namely those attempting to monetize the experience. In the health apps world more broadly, there is a industry push for doctors to begin designing apps, governments to take a proactive approach towards designing health apps, and a reminder of which types of health apps to avoid. Given the advice on which types of apps to avoid, it is interesting to note the recent award won by the training app, Mobile Medic which is effectively using those ‘do nots’ in a positive and educational sense. For a quick wrap on the week in mobile health, check out his blog.
This week, we also turn our attention towards the increase of apps within cars. The emerging signs we are beginning to follow come from the BMW ConnectedDrive initiative, who have just released a new swag of apps for their prototype. And, if you have been following the taxi app sagas from around the world, you’ll be interested to read the taxi app saga has now spread to China.
Lastly, we leave this week with a look at two potentially useful apps yet a little strange in their approach. In keeping up with the wearables fashion, diapers are now notifying parents when they are full, while Japan has released new election apps for its upcoming election, encouraging users to engage in the gamification of the election process.