With the overwhelming influx of smart phones – tiny computers unto themselves – it’s no surprise that people enjoy customizing their phones. Apps, the myriad tiny programs designed especially for mobile devices, bring those devices all sorts of new uses. But why are people so enthralled with apps? Why do people buy apps? There are a number of reasons:
Apps by their nature are dynamic: they are games to play, maps to follow, GPS systems, art programs, means of communicating with friends, and more. The best apps give a user plenty of interaction and do not expect a passive observer.
Native apps – those designed especially for an iPod or Android tablet – are designed to use all of that device’s technology, giving it the best features available. Graphics, sounds, motion controls and GPS create a deeper level of interaction with the device. Native apps also tend to run smoother and faster, merging in with the device as if they belong with it. In contrast, web-based applications do not always integrate as smoothly.
While many of an app’s features may be designed for online use, part of the beauty of a mobile device app is that depending on the app in question the user does not have to be continually online for its use. Many games and other apps are self-contained and will work just as well on a tablet outside of Wi-Fi range as they would a smart phone that’s always online.
Another novelty of apps is that unlike many programs which take a lot of funding for creation and distribution, many independent developers have started to create apps. This gives an enormous range of options on what is available. The popular app stores provided by Apple, Amazon, and Google mean these apps are generally easy to find and accessible. Many are free, while others have a free version and a paid version with more options.
“New Thing”, Social Phenomenon
So much of what happens on the Internet and with mobile devices is social, and there is a very real social factor when it comes to apps for mobile devices. People like to discover new things and share them with their friends. Apps that are especially useful, unique, novel, or funny have a certain ‘cool factor’ and appeal to sharing with friends.
Whether native apps remain the norm, or html-5 general apps such as those offered for Google Chrome become mainstream, the use of apps on mobile devices is not only a novelty, but likely here to stay for some time to come. They fill a useful and enjoyable niche, and as smart mobile devices become more mainstream, so will their respective apps.