The history of apps and their place in our lives

“App”: noun, Computers, Informal. 1. an application, typically a small, specialized program downloaded onto mobile devices.


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We’ve all heard the catchphrase – ‘There’s an app for that’. Well, with the number of apps being developed on a daily basis, this might almost literally be true. These days, customers download more than 800 apps every single second from the iStore.  Let’s take a look at how apps started.

On July 10, 2008, Apple launched the App Store, with 552 apps available, of which 135 were free. Unprepared for the popularity of their invention, the App Store was overwhelmed with 10 Million downloads in the first week alone. By September of the same year, the store had surpassed 100 million downloads, and by the end of 2008  the most downloaded app of the year, with 5 million downloads, was Facebook.  Apps changed the way that people communicated and did business, and with the advent of the Smartphone, their influence and presence in our daily lives have grown exponentially. It is sometimes difficult to imagine that Apps have only been in existence for a few years.

‘The most significant AppStore development of 2010, though, came from Apple: The iPad launched in April 2010, ushering in a slew of novel and clever software categories.’ (see Xander Apps built specifically for the iPad here.)

Internationally, the App Store is available in 77 countries, but what makes it unique and popular, is the fact that content is not restricted, and apps can be accessed and downloaded from any country. According to recent research, app downloads could reach 98 Billion by the end of this year. Total  app revenue in 2010 totalled $2.15 billion. By 2015, that figure will grow to nearly $12 billion. That’s about 153 Billion Rands, to put things into perspective.

According to App Annie Stats, the most popular apps in South Africa make for interesting reading, with messenger apps topping the list, and  WhatsApp coming in first overall. Gridwatch beats out the news section of its parent company News24,  for 8th place overall.  One glance at these stats prove the point that apps have become an integral part of our lives, and that the type of apps that we download, reflect our lives and interests. The way that we consume and interact with news and media has evolved due to apps, and has definitely brought the world into our hands and living rooms, for better or for worse.

We’ve all played addictive and senseless app games but what can be considered the most useless app ever to grace our screens? Probably this one:   Zips, a strange app that falls into the category of apps  performing an activity online, that would be boring in real life. On a handheld device, it is nothing short of excruciating, enthusiastic reviews notwithstanding. The app allows you to drag the zipper up and down to open and close.  Voted number one dumbest app by CNN Money in 2014, and we can see why.

Then there are apps that seem silly at first glance, but turn out to be absolutely indispensable.

What apps have saved your life? Whether it is just a relaxing time waster like Angry Birds, or something more useful and functional that makes your life easier in unexpected ways – we would love to know. We might even share your answer online and send you a voucher for one of our very own  #XanderApps. In the meantime, click through and see what think are indispensable apps for families.