Where would we be without these pervasive little programs today? We’d probably be in the exact same spot, but we’d likely lead a simpler life. To some that may sound like the utopian outcome they so earnestly wish for, but the app, in its current guise, was a game changer upon its introduction and mass adoption. It has had such a swift and robust influence on society and it may very well be the first invention since the printing press in 1439 to hold sway over humanity so scrupulously… And this is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you.
There has never been a single point in time where so many of the planet’s inhabitants held so much power all at once. They may not hold political or communal power as such, but by a mere arch of their very own digits they have access to all of Earth’s information. With an app they can broaden their knowledge, uphold a once taxing way of life and, more importantly, remain engaged and entertained for an eternity. The app is king in the 21st century and it will remain so for many, many a decade to come, guaranteed.
Today is International App Day. A little digging had to be done in its honour lest those pesky climbers celebrating Mountain Day one-up our splendid technology. What we’ll do is explore and compare some of the most popular apps (barring weather apps) that have been made available on Android and iOS devices. Many of the below apps to overlap on the aforementioned platforms, but this basically indicates the majesty of their popularity whether or not said popularity has waned over the years.
App: Social media and messenger apps
Launch Date: Early 2000s-present
Downloads: In the billions
Social media and messenger apps reign supreme numbers wise. There was never any doubt that all of Twitter, Facebook and its messenger application, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype and WeChat would take the number one spot. In fact, many of these fill up top ten lists on both the Google Play store and the App Store. We may physically have become a disconnected society, but, in turn, we’ve become consummate communicators digitally. This is the reason why these apps are far more popular than anything else.
App: Candy Crush Saga
Launch Date: April 12, 2012
Downloads: 500 million+
Developer and Publisher, King probably felt that the world of gaming became far too complex by the early 2010s. They also figured they could make a healthy buck or two as well. The premise of Candy Crush is extremely simple, but it is the very simplicity that made it such an addictive and successful game. It also set the precedent for the ‘freemium’ revolution of mobile gaming in that one can play for free, but progress easier with a physical, monetary transaction. In a way one can thank the ‘compulsion loop’ principle for its popularity.
App: Google Maps
Launch Date: September 23, 2008
Downloads: Between one and five billion
It does not score much in terms of entertainment value, but Google Maps is one of the most important apps ever developed. In fact, it is the sixth most downloaded app of all time. Flipping through a traditional road atlas really became a bore and it took up so much space cubby in a car’s cubbyhole. The technology was rather crude at launch, but now it can accurately triangulate a phone’s location within three metres. Google Maps nowadays is also used as a foundation for other apps and games – Geocaching and Pokémon GO are two notable examples.
App: Pokémon GO
Launch Date: July 6, 2016
Downloads: 800 million+
While it may battle to make a top ten list in terms of the sheer amount of download, Pokémon GO has, well, something else going for it. The augmented reality technology that employs was a revelation when it came out. People could, for the first time ever, interact with their immediate physical environment through the lens of their camera. This arguably had only been conceivable in early works of science fiction. The nostalgia factor also drove its numbers up close to a billion. There are still tens of millions of active users despite a very sharp decline following the initial release.
Launch Date: May 2011
Downloads: Between 100 and 200 million
There is a very good reason why Netflix lags a little behind the others in terms of total downloads – it is a paid-for service. But the total number of downloads remain impressive despite this little ‘setback’. The Netflix app may yet be one of the more important applications out there because it means that we can watch television, so to speak, at any given location and time. This therefore revolutionises the means in which we consume content