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Creating a successful app is an incredibly difficult task, whichever platform you are using.

For every super-viral Candy Crush there’s a thousand zero download zombie apps littering the floor of the app store. 

So what makes a great app? I recently took to Twitter (via an app naturally) to find out what busy digital people loved about apps...

Save time FTW

Many of our Tweeters underlined a simple fact: People are busy. When every second counts you want to make efficient use of time available, not hang around at a rainy bus stop or being crushed on the platform at the station, waiting for a train that never arrives. 

Out in the real world (or ‘meatspace’ if you prefer) there’s often a paucity of information and even when it is available it comes from diverse sources, meaning we have to waste valuable time hunting down timetables, lining up at ticket offices, peering at departures boards and more. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if all of this was available in one place? 

City Mapper

City Mapper is uniquely useful as it combines multiple travel options with a range of info including live updates, prices and even guides to the calories you’ll burn off if you choose to pedal rather than ride. It’s tough to be all things to all people, but this app manages it with aplomb. 

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/1045/photo_1-blog-full.png

This wasn’t the only travel app that popped up though:

Tube Map

Bus Times 

 Here

(Also known as good old Nokia Maps)  

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/1046/nokia_here_maps_1-blog-half.jpg

These were all hugely popular, while for those travelling farther afield Trip Advisor and several apps with that all-important ‘offline map’ mode came in handy:

Trip Advisor

In short, we’re busy, we don’t want to waste time trying to get to our next appointment, so accurate on the move info is super important. 

Educate and entertain: 

However much we reduce our commute though, we’ll still inevitably be travelling for a few minutes a day. So how do we fill those minutes? If you’re anything like our Twitter audience, you want to be doing something useful. 

Once again, our followers want apps that combine information.

We’re all curaters these days, so apps that filter and surface useful information rule. People who replied tended to focus on two areas – receiving news, or getting on top of their emails. 

IFTTT

First up, the ever-popular IFTTT (IF This, Then That) made an appearance. 

Possibly the ultimate curation app, IFTTT allows users to use simple recipes to automate a variety of tasks. For example, IF ‘I update Twitter’ THEN ‘post the same update to Facebook’. It’s a massive time saver. Have a look at some useful recipes or use this one to get a new recipe delivered to your email inbox every day. 

Pocket

Just providing info isn’t enough though. We also need to access that information when it best suits us. Which is where Pocket comes in:

Simple to use and possessed of a simple design that loads quickly on any device, Pocket is a great way to save and sort information from multiple sources; a Pinterest for articles.

It’s clearly gained huge traction over the past few months as well – here’s a screenshot of our analytics showing the rise in traffic from Pocket:

Gather and share

Evernote and Wunderlist

Evernote was also very popular with users and a number of list apps popped up, with Wunderlist being your go-to organising app:

These apps also allow the gathering and organisation of info, but once you’ve got everything in order, you need to share it. Several social apps popped up here, including Snapchat, Instagram and Buffer, but there was a definite focus on business too.

Refresh

Refresh straddles the line between the two, pulling in additional relevant information about your contacts.

Collaboration was a strong theme too, with Citrix’s Sharefile application proving popular, while Asana popped up as a handy open collaboration tool that took some of the email pain out of team projects.

Help users relax

Time to chill out. Whether it’s working out or heading down the front at a gig, our followers know how to have fun. Make sure you check out:

GigHub

My Fitness Pal

Duolingo

And more...

If your phone isn't already creaking from the download strain, you should also try the following, which our users recommended for email, banking, education, image sharing and more:

LastPass

TED Talks

AirMail

Any.do

ShopChat

HSBC

TU Go by O2

Alfred for Mac

WhatsApp

So, want to make a perfect app? It should save time, entertain, curate, inform and share (and maybe show you where to get a beer at the end of a long day too). Easy! 

We know there’s plenty more we’ve missed out there. As always, let us know your own opinions in the comments below. 

Matt Owen

Published 6 December, 2013 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Tedd

Thanks for the great shortlist. More than a few Tweeps like our super-addictive web app TripTuner (mobile coming soon) that helps you find ideal travel destinations instantly using DJ like equalizer sliders. Check it out! www.triptuner.com.

over 2 years ago

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Rob Parker

Great article with great resources! This would be a great resource to bookmark for many small business owners looking to gain momentum in social media marketing

over 2 years ago

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Sarah Williamson

Alarmed at the recent hikes in postage I've been using PingSome to send all my friends and family their animated cards. They have a great range of really nice cards (not the usual ecard rubbish), definitely check it out as it's saved me a fortune on postage!

over 2 years ago

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