National App Day? Yep, it’s a thing.
Each year, December 11 is set aside to celebrate all those time-saving, time-wasting tools that make life easier, more entertaining and occasionally annoying.
Admit it. You know you’ve muttered a few choice words when Google maps took you through every back road in Baltimore to get to the other side. Then again, paper maps didn’t detour you around accidents, tell you your arrival time, or warn you of speed traps. Not that you’d ever exceed the speed limit.
Apps are life’s little fast lane: instant answers and instant gratification. Life before apps (B.A.) required advance planning. You couldn’t just go to the store for ingredients. There were shopping lists and recipe cards. Never heard of recipe cards? That used to be a thing. Along with the recipe boxes to hold the recipe cards.
Then there was the weekly ritual of clipping coupons and competing to see how long you could hold up the people behind you at checkout. Now, it’s strolling and scrolling through the supermarket with your smart phone, comparing prices on ShopSavvy or BuyVia for lowest price bragging rights. At Amazon’s new smart stores, they’ve ratcheted it up a notch to eliminate checkouts altogether. Ceiling-mounted cameras and electronic sensors identify you and track all the junk food in your cart. Will that help us to eat healthier? Unlikely.
Our Favorite Apps
In honor of National App Day, we asked our app-savvy team of IT professionals, security engineers, software developers, support desk managers , sales and marketing folks what apps they rely on outside the office.
If you want to make a little money off Google instead of Google making money off you, there is Google Opinion Rewards. Answer questions, get money. Also available at the Google Play store.
Google Flights had some competition from Hopper for booking travel. Both apps track prices based on analyzing price trends of past flights. They tell you when to book and when to wait to get the best fares, and Hopper will also monitor prices and notify you.
Hobbies and utilities
We appear to have a lot of recreational photographers at Summit, as Snapseed came up three times. A photo editing app developed by, who else, Google, it can remove unwanted people from your group picture, add text, blend two photos and make that less than perfect image take on a film noir look.
The uber popular WhatsApp now has a small business version that allows entrepreneurs to interact with customers through tools that automate, sort and quickly respond to messages. On the more pedestrian front, there’s the widely used Waze for traffic alerts and live navigation, Flipboard for personalized news, and Pages—an Apple app that comes with all devices. You just drop your text and photos into dozens of templates to make newsletters, flyers, advertisements, etc.
Want to know when your favorite band is touring in your area? Download Bands in Town, a free app which also learns what kind of music you like via your library. Want to know where your teenage driver is? Life360 is a free app with GPS that tells you not just where they are but how fast they are driving, with crash detection and emergency response. And since teens are never without their phones, you always know where they are.
Finally, it’s our duty as a firm that manages cybersecurity and IT that we remind you to lock up those passwords! Password managers such as LastPass will keep you from forgetting them and scribbling them on pieces of paper for everyone to see.
How many apps are too many?
People used to hoard stuff. Now they hoard apps that tell them where to buy stuff to hoard. Unlike stuff, apps don’t take up physical space, so it’s easy to forget you have them until your phone starts to slow to the speed of a garden snail.
Do you know which apps and how many you have on your phone? According to App Annie, the average smartphone owner has 60-90 apps installed on their phone, using around 30 of them each month, launching 9 per day, and spending 2 hours and 15 minutes a day on these apps.
The dark side of apps
For all the benefits apps deliver, they can be addicting. More than half of young adults admit to excessive use of their smartphones, and this obsession is not limited to millennials. Psychotherapists say when they diagnose anxiety and insomnia, it’s rare there’s no connection to heavy use of digital devices.
So enjoy your apps, but set aside those smartphones to take some time to gaze at other iconic views that have nothing to do with those icons on your mobile device.