Demand for smartphone apps is waning

apps

According to The Telegraph, Smartphone owners’ appetite for new apps is waning, with the average number of apps downloaded per user per month declining considerably over the past year. While I am always looking for something new or interesting, once you find an app. that works it takes a truly unique approach to unseat what’s already on my home screen.

Almost one in three (31 per cent) of smartphone users in the UK do not download any apps on their device in a typical month, according to a report by Deloitte – a steep increase from less than one in five in 2013.

Of those that do, the average number of apps downloaded per month has fallen from 2.32 to 1.82.
The report also found that almost nine in ten people never spend money on apps or other smartphone content, suggesting that demand for paid apps is even lower.

However, this does not mean the size of the app market itself is shrinking. Deloitte claims that the decline in the rate of downloads per user is due to an increase in the number of smartphone owners over 50, who have less interest in using their phone as a data device.

Read full article.


Expat Apps – Where Would I Be Without You?

Since returning to the UK after living abroad for several years, I’m struck by how smartphones have transformed the expat experience for many. Plenty of the difficulties I faced when living in a foreign country have become obsolete now: things like translating a sign or getting lost are no longer an issue with the right apps installed on your phone. Having this information at our fingertips is both a blessing and a curse. It undoubtedly makes life easier, but at the same time it takes away some of the magic, which is perhaps what we left home for in the first place. That being said, here are three expat apps I wouldn’t be without:

iTranslate

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Useful when: You’re trying to by an obscure item of stationary from a shop where everything is behind the counter.

Surely the most useful expat tool in the 21st century is a translation app. It’ll help you out of a jam when you’re looking for an object so uncommon that even your native speaking friends don’t know what you’re referring to. And if your pronunciation is still a little shady, you can just show the shopkeeper the word displayed on your phone instead of making a fool of yourself. iTranslate is a good choice, offering translations of more than 80 languages and the option to speak or type your word into the app. (iPhone or Android)

Forget-Me-Not

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Useful when: You’ve forgotten your mum’s birthday for the third year in a row.

It’s a sad fact of life that special occasions like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day fall on different days in different countries. This makes it a nightmare for expats trying to remember who to buy flowers for and when. Say hello to Forget-Me-Not from FloraQueen, an app that reminds you when your friends’ birthdays are, along with the dates of special occasions in your home country. Impressively, it knows the important events in EVERY country and can be synced with Facebook to pull your friends’ details with ease. (iPhone only)

Google Maps

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Useful when: You’re trying to find your way to a punk gig in a squat on the other side of town.

It’s hard to imagine a time before Google Maps, when you could still get hopelessly lost. Thanks to Google Maps, we take for granted that we will always find our way around town. And the latest version of the app is no exception. Among its standout features is the option to easily save an offline map of your area – perfect for when you get caught short without an internet connection. And you can now easily filter bars and restaurants according to opening hours – helpful for finding the perfect post-gig watering hole. You’ll never miss the support band again! (iPhone or Android)

But is an app-savvy expat a happier expat? Whether to download or keep it old school is one of the questions of our generation. There can be no turning back time, and to pretend technology doesn’t exist and not use it would be a bit perverse. But, at the same time, please don’t let it ruin the mystique of the experience.

Written by Matt Lindley, follow him on Twitter.


Noise cancelling on your window

Silence has become a scarce and almost luxurious experience; it’s one of the experiences I look forward to when returning home to Eastern Canada. I’ve tried all kinds of noise cancelling techniques to help quell the noise pollution in the building where we live but poor building standards, a culture that loves noise, and loose enforcement of when you can use that concrete drill makes it impossible. This pebble like device you can see here lets you reclaim that silence for your home. It turns your window into an advanced noise cancelling system that allows you to eliminate and/оr control the sounds that pass through. I hope we see these mobile-like devices in the real world soon so that we can take our own personal decibel level with us where ever we go.

Sono



Blackphone

Silent Circle and Geeksphone have partnered to combine best-of-breed hardware with all the skills and experience necessary to offer, Blackphone the world’s first smartphone to put privacy and control ahead of everything else. Ahead of carriers. Ahead of advertising. Blackphone is re-shaping the landscape of personal communications.

It would be great to have this option in the marketplace.



Phone calls a thing of the past

Photo by Maggsinho

Photo by Maggsinho

The continuing decline of telephone culture: A recent Pew report showed that in 2012, 80 percent of cellphone users used their phones for texting; in 2007, just 58 percent did. In late 2007, according to Nielsen, monthly texts outpaced phone calls for the first time. Personally I seldom use the phone app. on my iPhone, any conversations, which are few, are done over Skype or Facetime.

As a freelance writer, I also have days, even busy ones, when I don’t speak a word aloud. Frequently, I conduct all professional and personal interactions by email or text from my apartment. A simulacrum of a bustling office is achieved by a quick survey of Facebook posts or Twitter messages.

Ten years ago, still in the social-media stone age of Friendster and not yet texting, I often talked to friends on the phone during the day, sometimes while walking or running errands.

Now, of course, hardly anyone calls, at least not without a pre-emptive “Are you free to talk?” text. Last month, I accidentally removed one of the bottom four primary buttons on my iPhone screen, and it took me a good five minutes to realize it was the “phone” function.

Work From Home? A Phone Call May Be a Rare Thing


Higby, a set of friendly interventions for those technological pocket distractions

To help you make real connections with those closest to you during the Christmas period, and other times of course, Higby blocks your headphones so you can tune into real life. His heart covers your camera’s eye, so you can see through your own two eyes. And Higby’s arms hug your phone and your friend’s phone together so there aren’t any screen distractions when you’re spending time together.

Higby is an experiment in using design and technology to make delightful, useful, and valuable new things possible for people.



Fun Virtual Museum Field Trip Apps for Kids

There are more than 900,000 apps and counting, raking in more than $25 billion annually, news.com.au reports. The upside to a market stuffed with apps is that there are plenty of educational ways to keep kids entertained. But the downside is, with nearly a million apps to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start.

Launch your app search for the kids with virtual field trips in mind. Here is a round-up of some of the world’s best museums and the apps that take your kids on an exploration without leaving behind their gadgets.

Majestic Building of the Guggenheim

When the Guggenheim Museum opened its doors in New York City in 1959, admission cost just $0.50. Now you can see it for free with its museum app. According to Guggenheim.org, you can check out the Guggenheim app for a look at the building’s architecture, and access collection guides.

If your kids are studying foreign languages, choose the collection guides in French, German, Italian, or Spanish. You can learn about more than 1,300 works at the museum with the help of audio and video.

Dinosaurs of the American Museum of Natural History

Explore the American Museum of Natural History with its impressive Explorer app. The part-custom navigation system, part-tour guide, shows kids everything from the museum hallways, to a virtual look at the dinosaur age. Explorer, found at AMNH.org, has plenty of Museum-designed tours, but if your kids are particularly interested in fossils or space, they can design their own tour right on the app.

Artists Speaking on Getty Museum App

Download the Getty Museum app to explore art exhibition galleries with more than 40 audio commentaries. If your kids learn better with audio than images, Getty offers interviews with artists speaking about their own work. Kids can also check out works of art, photographs and archival materials.

The Getty Museum’s Los Angeles location also makes an appearance, where kids can learn about the city’s contribution to the art scene, according to Getty.edu.

Early Guitar Heroes: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Moms with music lovers in the house should check out the Met’s multimedia Guitar Hero app. As outlined on MetMuseum.org’s blog, its clever name gives a nod to the museum’s special exhibition named Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York.

Take your kids to a guitar shop before poring through the app. Guitar Heroes teaches users a lesson on guitar makers, the creative process and the inner workings of many recordings, as the Apple store notes.

Free Museum Admission Via Google Field Trip

Don’t forget to download the Google Field Trip app, now that you have the scoop on museum apps. Get out of the house, and launch Google Field Trip for an interactive lesson that follows you through your day. As Mashable reports, the app can tell you about the history of a nearby statue or old warehouse facade.

Google Field Trip also provides a map view, recommendations on places to see, and categories such as Outdoor Art to narrow down the choices. But perhaps best of all, Google Field Trip offers free admission to more than 20 museums. Just walk near the attraction, and a free pass appears to museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

There are thousands of free museum apps on the market, so start exploring based on your kids’ interests. Then, load up Google Field Trip on your Samsung Galaxy at T-Mobile, or similar mobile rig, and and start your journey.


The Daily Special: 4 Essential Apps for the Creative Cook

On average, Americans cook just 30 minutes a day, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. That’s the lowest average found in a study covering 34 different countries. The implication is that better opportunities do not necessarily increase the quality of living among a group of people. Fast food, prepackaged meals and other conveniences may free up time in our daily lives, but they also affect our physical health. Cooking is a healthy lifestyle choice, and a wide range of mobile apps aim to make cooking more accessible and fun. If you’re looking to bolster your chef skills or simply get more direction in your culinary efforts, consider adding these four apps to your toolbox.

Learn to cook healthy recipes like this brie, blueberry and almond salad with these four great smartphone apps. Image by AmazingAlmonds via Flickr.

1. Epicurious

For discovering new recipes and working with specific ingredients, Epicurious is a great resource. This app collects recipes from a wide range of culinary resources to provide users with a massive body of options. Searches can be done according to the type of meal you’re trying to make or the foods you want to include. Ratings and reviews also provide additional information on these professional recipes, so your first attempt can be a stunner. And if you really love the app, you can sync it with other apps on your BlackBerry 10, including your recipe box and grocery lists, all through one convenient portal.

2. Food Network

The Food Network app lets you carry around professional chefs and their instructional guides wherever you go. In addition to the text-based recipes, you can watch videos that walk you through the cooking process and even learn additional tips, tricks and techniques that will sharpen your culinary skills. This is a great supplement to your favorite Food Network shows, since you can recall past recipes and segments and consult them during your meal preparation. Other features include meal planners, interactive planners and shopping lists.

3. Happy Cooking

If you’re looking for a culinary guide offering an international flair, Happy Cooking may be it. In addition to recipes from around the world, this app connects the foods being prepared with the native cultures that invented these foods. Users can create their own dish diaries, which are comprehensive recipes complete with cooking methods and step-by-step photos. In addition to searching by region, recipes can be discovered by searching for ingredients, dish types and whether or not you’re looking for a health-minded meal. Happy Cooking is a great way to explore the world from the comfort of your own kitchen.

4. OurGroceries

Want to get the family involved in the kitchen? Get them started by contributing to the grocery list. The big problem with most grocery apps is they only allow one user to edit the list. OurGroceries takes a more collectivist approach, allowing multiple family members to access and edit your growing shopping list. This can be a great stepping-stone to encouraging other family members to take charge making a meal on a set night every week. But even if one party still manages most of the cooking in the home, OurGroceries will make that process much more collaborative and social.


Why a New Golden Age for UI Design Is Around the Corner

Is the future of UI design an integrated experience, a smooth hybrid of real-world and digital interactions?

Over the past 30 years, as every facet of our lives, from our shopping to our schooling, has migrated onto computer screens, designers have focused on perfecting user interfaces—placing a button in just the right place for a camera trigger or collapsing the entire payment process into a series of swipes and taps. But in the coming era of ubiquitous sensors and miniaturized mobile computing, our digital interactions won’t take place simply on screens. As the new Disney World suggests, they will happen all around us, constantly, as we go about our day. Designers will be creating not products or interfaces but experiences, a million invisible transactions.

Read more at Wired.


Texting Your Feelings, Symbol by Symbol

emoji

To many of us, even those of us who have lived in a country heavily influenced by Japanese culture, Emoji – a colorful symbol alphabet that contains nearly a thousand images of cute animals, food items and expressive smiley faces can sometimes convey what words cannot – are a confusing mess of overly cute meaning that can often lead to miscommunication.

“In Japan, there was a similar, interesting moment when you started to see older folks and men start using these kind of cute aspects — these emoji — that originally came from middle-school girl, mobile-phone culture,” said Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine, who studies how young people use digital media in Asia and the United States. “Now, as emoji are seeing more adoption in the U.S., you’re seeing a form of communication being used that was clearly developed and marketed to a different demographic.”

Emoji date back to 1995, when people used pagers instead of smartphones and NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s biggest cellular phone operator, added a small heart icon to its pagers. The heart spread rapidly among Japanese teenagers because it allowed them to express an emotion that was almost impossible to portray in small snippets of text.

“We discovered that in the Asian culture, the expression on an emoji face isn’t necessarily what conveys emotion. It’s the context of where that face is located,” Mr. Marra said.

In Asian cultures, an emoji face in dark clouds would show that someone is sad and having a bad day. A face on a beach with the sun glaring means they are happy. In the United States, the emotion on the face tells the story, not the surroundings. Also, “stars for eyes could mean something completely different in Asia than using dots for eyes,” he said.

From Bits.