The revolutionary app phenomenon

We’re all familiar with the ‘app’ phenomenon only after the production and release of the first Apple iPhone, but do you know that one of the first apps were actually launched way back in 1998? However, because technology then lacked a device which could support these apps, they never really gained popularity until 2007 (along with the craze that accompanied that of the iPhone). Before today’s all-familiar Apple App Store, apps were initially only available through Safari. Apple only launched the App Store in 2008 to tackle developers, who created their very own unofficial App Store and third-party apps downloaded through what they called “Installer“.

Apple’s AppStore gradually grew and grew, reaching a total of about 500,000 apps available for download. Moreover, with Android phones and iPads joining the market, people have grown so dependent on it. Besides the entertaining action games and mind-boggling puzzles, there’s an app for almost anything! An app to wake you up, to monitor women’s menstrual cycles or pregnancy, to remind you of appointments and groceries to stock up on, to edit your photos and keep yourself updated on all social networking sites.

Being an iPhone user myself, i’m going to introduce (if you don’t already know) and recommend three of what i think are the most useful apps that i have come across:

1. Shazam

Ever encountered a situation where you walk into a club or just a random retail store and they’re playing a catchy tune which got you thinking “I need that on my playlist”, but you have no way to find out what song that is unless a) you walk up to the salesgirl/DJ and ask for its title or b) you quickly struggle to make out the lyrics of the song and search it on Google? Well, since Shazam, i have never had to feel like that again.

All you have to do is put your phone near the source of the music that you like, record about 20 seconds of it and then BAAM!, the title, artist, album and lyrics of the song is all yours, safely stored in the “Tags” category of the app. I guess this app would appeal to people who, like me, think “NO MUSIC, NO LIFE!”

2. Flipboard

Before hearing about Flipboard from a close friend of mine, i used to have to browse through a crazy number of apps a day just to keep myself updated on every social networking site, newspaper and magazine app. Now Flipboard is just amazing because it offers the integration of all these information into one platform. By “flipping” the board, i can access Facebook updates, tweets, daily news (even backdated ones), my favourite fashion magazines and daily horoscope updates either altogether in one, or by category. I know, it’s quite hard to understand my explanations but i guess a preview of the app will make it easier for you to understand.

With the convenience of having everything in one, the ease of just “flipping” with one finger to skip to the next page and the attractive and user-friendly layout, i think Flipboard is just amazing!

3. My Timetable

Now this is exclusively handy for students who like keep things organised and viewing their class timetables in a proper, practical and colourful format instead of just jotting it down on a piece of paper or saving it on their phones. Or maybe could cater to just anybody who keeps a routine, lacks time management or likes keeping their upcoming days or weeks organised. This app cost me $0.99 but i actually thought it was worth paying for. My Timetable allows you to keep an endless list of timetables and even have those emailed to you as an emergency backup. It might not appeal to the majority and people might find it ridiculous to pay for an app like this but among all other timetable apps that i have downloaded, i found this the easiest to adapt to and the least dull and boring to view from.

With the prevalence and the certain continuing development of apps like these, phones with the ability to support this technology have become a necessity to a lot of people around the world. I, myself, have become very dependent on my iPhone to not only manage my time and keep myself organised but also get me through the boring, time-consuming train rides with informational and fun apps. With more companies and organisations starting to involve themselves in this phenomenon with the creation of an app for themselves, the world would definitely be more connected and integrated that accessing official websites through web browsers wouldn’t be necessary anymore. How convenient! 🙂

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Doubting Castle 2: How Social Media Can Make History

Hi, I just watched Clay Shirky’s presentation on the transformed media landscape. It was very interesting to listen to as he uses real-life stories to explain the transformation. His examples given on China’s earthquake, the Great Firewall of China and Video the Vote 2008 basically demonstrated how social media has helped citizens in suppressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censorship and how this changes the nature of politics. His lecture was a real eye opener to how social media has played an important factor in much bigger systems than just the obvious ease of connectivity between people all around the world.

Shirky lays out the three big changes from the media landscape:

  • the internet allowed the many-to-many pattern of communication
  • the internet is the motive carriage for all other medium
  • the internet allows for members of the former audience to be producers and not just consumers (because the same equipment let you consume and produce — phones, laptops etc.)

“Media is increasingly less just a source of information,

and is increasingly more a site of coordination.” -Clay Shirky

This is one of my favourite quotes in his lecture as i cannot agree more with what he said. Media was primarily a source of information, but with immense developments and advancements in technology, media has also created a space for people to interact, cooperate, and work together. However, it is true that “innovation can happen anywhere that people can take for granted the idea that we’re all in this together”.

Shirky’s example on the China earthquake clearly demonstrated how social media has changed the way news is being spread. He mentioned that China’s government took 3 months to even admit that an earthquake has happened but that the government had no opportunity to even hide the recent earthquake because their own citizens already “beat them to the punch” by tweeting about it. This shows that new media and technologies have enabled new types of cooperative constructions to bloom in business, science and other industries that i believe will lead to a tremendous change in the system of many governments and organisations.