As part of the final questions she answered on the road to being crowned Miss World in 2001, Agbani Darego was asked a simple question; what one item was she going to pick if she was going to be in the desert for a month? She chose her Bible. That was then; if the question was asked of a sample size of a hundred people today, more than ninety of them will choose their mobile phones without neither thinking not apologising. The mobile phone has gone from a simple communication device to a lifestyle companion, in fact most of us will feel naked going out without one. Particularly for Africa, the penetration of mobile phones have been a phenomenon, making even the world wonder if this has been the only innovation required by Africa to progress. Talk of the phenomenal adoption of mobile phones in Nigeria, it has grown from a mere 300,000 land lines to about 142 million phone lines, already aiming to match our population; only the telecommunication companies call tell of the benefit in terms of the return on their investment.
While Apple was launching its payment platform Apple pay, most places in Africa most especially Kenya had already mastered the technology of using feature phones in processing payments. The mobile payment processing has become so successful it has its own currency Mpesa, which contributes over fifteen percent of the Kenya’s GDP last year. The story of how Nigeria uses mobile phones to communicate with peasant farmers and nursing mothers directly on maternity tips, updates and fertilizer pickups have been well documented and are worthy of emulation. However the rise of cheaper smartphones and the emergence of Apps have taken the mobile phone evolution in Africa a notch higher. Instant messengers like BlackBerry, Whatsapp, Eskimi and 2go have found a bed of roses in Africa where mobile phone penetration is exceeding the spread of electricity. In fact, people now find it more convenient to ping, tweet and chat rather than make phone calls. Telecommunication companies are also responding to these changes by offering with products and services that make communication beyond phone calls easy and making data access convenient.
Enter Apps. Apps didn’t start as a word; it was actually a shortened word for “application software”. After the consistent use of the shortened form, it was named the word for the year 2010 and later added to the dictionary. In fact, before the word smartphones became popular, they were called App Phones. Mobile Apps are computer programmes designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices and are able to run simple to complex processes and tasks designed to improve productivity, track progress and automate basic tasks and activities. Apps are generally developed by individuals and businesses but the major operators are those companies that run mobile phone operating softwares; Apple which domiciles all its apps on Apple Store. Google’s Android, which domicile’s its own apps on Google Play store, Windows on Windows Phone Store while BlackBerry houses its own apps on BlackBerry App World. While most of these platforms have developed their own version of apps that help improve the efficiency of its products, more and more individuals are creating apps that are compatible with all these types of phones and operating systems and are hosting them on the individual app stores for onward downloading by the prospective clients or in many cases, users.
Here are my quick thoughts on the hottest aps in the market;
Traditional Bundled Apps
Most traditional apps started as a bundled product along with products; case in point are the calendar, email and messenger that come bundled with Blackberry phone and the apps that also come bundled with other smartphones. Most of Google’s popular apps also comes bundled with almost all Android devices and they make it easier to get people to use them. Smart app developers have also used this as a tactic – ensure you are able to secure partnership with a telco or mobile phone producer so your app can be bundled to the user along their mobile phones.
News and Gist on the go
Everyone knows that gist runs the internet space and like traditional media; it is sweeter and flies faster when it is not true. Credible news platforms have moved on to engage their target audience through mobile applications. Punch Newspapers mobile application was one the first news apps on the market and they have worked to continually deliver updated and timely information to those who want news the way it should be served – hot, fresh and factual.
Other news organizations have also developed mobile apps designed to ensure their target customers are constantly updated and in tune.
Video, Film and Music on the go
Apart from iTunes, which happens to be the leading brand in this pack, several other music apps are pulling their weight within the entertainment scene – audio and video on the go. Spotify, Not just ok, MTN Caller Tunes, My music, Afrinolly, Dobox, Music Plus, Jandus Radio, Channels iWitness, Orin, Naija Music and iROKO Apps are also apps you can use to stay in touch with Nigerian music, videos and entertainment generally.
Using Apps to Track Traffic
Especially when it comes to tracking traffic on the ever busy Lagos roads, your radio and traffic app can come to the rescue. Leading here is GidiTraffic which people are fast turning into an encyclopaedia and the innovative Tsaboin and traffic butter apps which also allow for sharing pictures and images on the go.
Apps to track your Health
From pedometers to track your footsteps and calories burnt, to WorkOut planners and trackers, there is almost an app for everything you want to do under the sun. Once you decide to go paperless, you will find apps like mobile scanners, monthly period and ovulation calculator useful for your health goals. Nutrition, pharmacy and other daily goals trackers are great to monitor and track your progress in matters of your health.
Boosting your productivity
Productivity Apps are by far the most popular of the app category; from Google calendar to manage your time and events to Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive to ensure you have all your documents and files everywhere you go and on every device. Some others can ensure your goals are being tracked by the time, some can help you ensure all calls picked can be responded to, yes! There is essentially an app for everything.
Nice rundown of the list of Apps but man remains the most important app ever created, without the human mind, apps are lively icons, with tools to power your productivity every day, we need to look for the important ones to power our journey and ensure we are making progress, for life and living. What apps are you presently rocking?