Living in the age of ... Gen App

  • Business
  • Saturday, 16 Nov 2013

Apps have come to serve as an extra limb for many mobile device users

I HAVE to say the past week has been quite challenging for me.

Why? I had an appointment in a place I’ve never been too before, so I logged onto Google maps, printed out eight pages worth of step-by-step directions, followed the directions and realised by page 4 that I was hopelessly lost.

Thankfully due to the kindness of passers-by, I found my way and got to my appointment in time.

Usually getting to somewhere new is a breeze to me.

I just tap open Waze, punch in the address, follow the calm female voice helping me navigate through the manic KL traffic as my mind is at ease as the bar at the bottom of my phone screen constantly updates me on my estimated time of arrival based on the traffic condition. I tend to arrive at my destination, stress-free, on time and in the right place.

Waze, if you do not already have it installed on your smartphone, is a popular socially driven navigation app, which is my traffic lifeline.

Apart from providing you with voice activated navigation of your destination of choice, the app provides you with real time updates via its users of traffic hazards, roadblocks, and more.

But enough on my Waze love affair. The reason why the week has been challenging, if you have not already guessed, is that I’ve been rendered smartphone-less, due to it getting stolen. During the interim period of getting a new phone, I turned to my trusty old Nokia.

Despite the huge plus point of my battery lasting me for two whole days, I have to say it was extremely difficult going back to SMS over Whatsapp, not being able to check my emails on the go, checking my newsfeeds and of course checking Facebook mobile.

Apps on our mobile screens have provided us with shortcuts to almost everything imaginable from crushing candy while you’re waiting for your number to be called at the bank, keeping track of your menstrual cycles, to buying a new TV for your home at a discounted price via Groupon.

It’s amazing how those tiny blobs of colour on your mobile screens have begun shaping many of your daily life’s actions and interactions.

I recently read an article by Forbes Tech contributor who discussed a new book by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis called The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World.

The book made an argument that “young people growing up in our time are not only immersed in apps: they’ve come to think of the world as an ensemble of apps, to see their lives as a string of ordered apps.”

The book went on to explain how apps on a person’s smartphone or tablet represented a fingerprint of sorts where it showcased the combination of interests, habits and social connections which identified a person.

While I don’t think apps have totally shaped my world view, I cannot ignore the fact that apps have certainly changed the way I live my life today. Take for example travelling, I recently visited Penang for a food trip with a friend after not being there for 11 years.

Despite not being there for so long, finding the best local food and not getting lost was a breeze. I simply went on the photo sharing app Instagram, looked at pictures tagged under #penangfood, each photo was tagged at the location it was taken at, so I took the location of the food I liked best, found it on Waze and had my fill of some awesome char kuey teow, chendol and asam laksa.

The app’s definitely provided me with a shortcut to planning my trip there.

Apps most definitely are nothing new. Countless products and businesses have launched them to promote not only their service and even extending it into to their marketing campaigns.

They definitely work in drawing consumer’s attention to what you have to offer, take for example Bitstrips.

Don’t know what I’m referring to? It is the main reason why your Facebook timeline is filled with cartoon images of your friends doing mundane things like going to the gym, buying coffee and participating in a Zombie parade. Bitstrips allows you to create a cartoon version of yourself and your friends in different scenarios that you can share on Facebook, because status updates are simply ‘not’ enough these days.

Bitstrips, created in 2008, slowly started gaining more attention in 2012 after releasing its Facebook app and now reached its peak of popularity among users having launched an iOS and Android app few months back.

Once an unknown service, it is now the hottest trending app, thanks to it being more accessible to users via its app.

As we grow more attached to our smartphones and tablets, apps certainly serve as an extra limb for many users today. Creating an app is one thing, the challenge, however, lies in making one that is integral to your consumers’ life that they won’t forget to tap on it daily.

Former journalist Malati Siniah used to cover news in the Ad&Marketing world; she now lives and breathes it through the running of a new online youth portal that she’s a part of. Connect with her on Twitter at @mala_tee and let her know your thoughts and favourite apps.

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Business , smartphone , apps , gen-Y


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