There’s an app for that. Or is there? By now we no longer need educating about what an app is, how it works, and what it does, like we used to when the phenomenon was first communicated to us. Remember those Apple ads showing the play guitar app, race car game, how to capture and share images with our friends. They were intended to introduce us to the basic idea and functionality of a service that made out lives easier, and we embraced the new technology.
Creating and building apps is still a laborious process, however. Yes we have Microsoft’s Blend for better UX design, we have SWIFT code, Python, good old HTML and C# to make the tech side as simple as possible, and yet, as ordinary citizens and users, the end product delights and amuses us, but the secret of how it is done remains alien to us. It is a shame we don’t embrace the technology more, because the real power of apps lies not in the code-behind, it really can be as straightforward as telling the time, but with our imagination, as we to identify and answer everyday problems to improve the quality of our own, and other’s, lives.
If we leave app building to the techies, then we will get techie apps. Strategy games, data storage, gadgets, widgets; these can all be valuable to us as consumers, but sometimes we switch off our minds because we think that the change we desire is unachievable.
To spark a debate, we have listed below 10 apps we think would make the world a better place. Because we realise that consumers are answering the world’s problems as they stroll to work, daydream and take on the challenges that every new day brings. But they are keeping quiet about it because they think that kind of problem is being solved by the good folk of Silicon Valley. Speak out people! Without you they are nothing! Your ideas are just as valuable and creative, if not more so. So what can you add to the list?
- Order ahead – you’re on your way to your favourite restaurant; you eat there every few weeks or so, but this time you and your wife are running late, the kids were late back from school and its held you up. This app allows you to log into your reservation via your restaurants’ online platform, order your dishes, and say what time you need them to arrive. Starter at 7.45, main at 8, and you like to linger over dessert, so say, coffee at 9? Done, now you can relax, and you know you’ll be in time for the party at the Webster’s beach house later. Maybe even time to lecture the kids about the importance of time-keeping, and not missing the school bus!
- Bar space – It’s Friday night and you’re headed out with the girls. Last time you queued for a half hour to get into Inferno’s, then that creepy guy wouldn’t leave you alone all night and kept trying to slip his arm round you in the crush. So this time you need to make the right choice. Bar space tells you how many people are in each local bar, what the queue is like, whether it’s 1 in 1 out, how soon it will be full up. So if it’s heaving in the town centre, you know the smart move is that cocktail place down by the river. You and your friends can beat the crowd and chat to as many, or as few people as you like. Creepy guy problem solved!
- Where’s my endangered animal – 99% of the population don’t want to see endangered animals become extinct. A small crowd of illegal hunters don’t see it that way and are butchering animals for their hides, or horns. Trouble is, they are the ones living side by side with the animals, and only they know where they plan to strike next. But what if the world were watching the animals? An app that allows you to track wildlife, shared by millions. There would be an outcry every time even one member of an endangered species went missing, if 100,000 people noticed. An everyday act of heroism on behalf of all animal lovers.
- Shop rater – you’re on Oxford Street buying shoes; the sales person is giving it the hard sell, and now he’s claiming its out of stock just because he doesn’t want to go downstairs to the store cupboard again. So tell someone! Shop rater allows you to rate shops and comment on service in any town or shopping centre across the country. Live. A fun, informative and engaged way to manage your shop, find the best deals, and avoid the turkeys.
- Rate my date – you had a good time, the evening went well (or so you thought), you even shared a kiss as you said goodbye. So why isn’t she calling? This keeps happening! Rate my date is a chance to review your date online, providing both parties have agreed beforehand. Cuts out dodgy date behaviour, and lets you know where you’re going wrong. Or where you’re going right! Makes the date that little bit more fun and relaxed.
- What I’m saying / what I’m thinking – You’re having lunch with over-friendly Dave from accounts again. Jeez, you always draw the short straw, the guy is a moron! What I’m saying / What I’m thinking is an amusing way to keep people nearby informed about what is really going through your head as you nod and smile politely. Log in when are at a venue and connect with others doing the same thing. Try to guess who they are, and keep yourself entertained during an otherwise bleak engagement.
- Get me pregnant! – An app that helps people trying to conceive. It stores information about your diet, sleep habits, exercise and uses the data to make recommendations about when to try sex, what positions to use, what to do before and after, as well as more general advice on wellbeing, staying focused, and what has worked for others. The act of creation is worth taking your time over.
- My kid’s friends – build up a portfolio of your kids friends using this app; rate them for politeness, good / bad influence, family situation, and how attached your kid seems to them. This helps you make decisions about how your kid should be playing in his spare time, people they mix well with, and others that are best avoided at this stage of the child’s development. Share info with your friends or keep it to yourself. You have a ready-made database to jot down your thoughts, and make sure you don’t miss anything.
- The mobile business card – it seems to happen at every business meeting or networking event I go to, you meet a new contact and there is mutual embarrassment as you both reach for your business card. “Must be in my other trousers”, “just ran out of cards 10 minutes back, must remember to order some more.” Create your mobile business card, deliver it safely and conveniently to new contact using this app, and never worry about being caught short again. Plus your new contact can’t lose the card down the back of the sofa, and it will never get chewed by the dog!
- What I’m wearing – So what are you going to wear? One of the most common pre party questions, and subject to almost constant change. Who ever really knows what outfit feels right until they are halfway out of the door on the night. Keep everyone updated and make sure you don’t clash with the “What I’m wearing” app, a simple UX allows you to show the basic look; short / long sleeved, high heels or flats, using graphics and style icons, so the full wow factor is saved for the party, but people can still complement your style. You’ll be able to tell instantly who hasn’t been paying attention!
Readers, over to you. Tell the tech and development community what you really need to get by!