Why I Love Utility Apps… How Can You Not?

So we live in a world of constant disruption. Nothing is what it seems at first, our houses are in an underwater position, hottest electronics we own become obsolete within one year if we are lucky, and we are slaves to our jobs instead of being the other way around. The only comfort is the morning cup of coffee and our beloved mobile apps that tell us when our bus is coming, prepare grocery shopping lists, store our groupons, guide us to our destinations no matter where we are. Whatever we are striving for, you can be sure, there is an app for that.

It is pretty amazing how fast apps established a very prominent presence in our lives. I for one can’t really imagine how I used to live without Googlemaps and OneBusAway on my iPhone. It is true, they are not always reliable, and buses are rarely on time, but I appreciate having that information because it gives me a greater control over little pockets of idle time.  I often use that time to grab coffee on my way to the bus stop, or it to mentally get ready for the day ahead instead of stressing over “stupid late bus.” So I thought why not explore the world of apps that are purely Utility.

Once you delve into the world of utility apps, it is easy to get lost in them. There are apps that can do pretty much everything short of tying your shoelaces. Based on my personal use of apps, I mentally divided them up into two categories: Short-Lived  apps and It-Has-Potential apps. Short-Lived category to me represents all the cutesy-looked-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time type of apps that add extra physical utility to your device. A flash light, camera zoom, alarm clock, mouse track pad and etc. They are fun and cool until you find a new cool toy to play with. Then follows a tearless bye-bye.

It-Has-Potential category of utility apps on the other hand provide me with a valuable addition to my everyday routine and provide more of an intellectual utility. It makes my device and me smarter and more efficient. Good examples are apps that allow us to keep our affairs in check like banking, networking, organization apps that save us time and money by extension.

Obviously I am a big fan of utility apps, since I feel like they add the biggest value to my life on daily basis. Although gaming is a no value-add activity for me, so I was never taken by gaming apps. Someone needs to convince me otherwise. Instead I will be discussing GroupMe app.

Couple years ago when I was making a transition from a feature phone to a smart phone I was talking to my friends that were divided into two distinct groups: Blackberry and iPhone users. Blackberry users’ main argument for sticking with the phone was the feature that allowed to send text messages within Blackberry community at no charge and of course the fact that majority of their contacts at the time belonged to Blackberry, so switching costs were considerably high. And iPhone was just cool…

GroupMe is defined as a free group texting and conference calling that works like a private chat room over SMS, or reply-all text messaging by its publishers. This application allows a non limited communication with your contacts within the app. You can create groups, administer them, divide them up into various categories (friends, cross fit group, colleagues, PTA and etc.) and continuously communicate with all your groups without worrying about going over your sms plan. Who doesn’t hate paying exorbitant fees for going by one or two texts?

Everything about this app is streamlined from initial download, approving your cell phone number to creating groups and starting a chat. All of that took me maybe two minutes. It also allows you to link up your account to Twitter and Facebook, just in case you feel extra social and want to get your extreme multitasker badge. Come on, admit it, we all have crazy, texting-at-all-times-of-the-day-and-night friends that we get annoyed with especially when it comes to reviewing our mobile bills. Now there is an app for that too. Let them exercise their passion and text away while you get on their good side by staying cool and supportive. Not only it doesn’t cost you anything, it actually saves you tons of money and text-loving friends!

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2 Comments

Filed under Mobile Media Development and Integration

2 responses to “Why I Love Utility Apps… How Can You Not?

  1. It’s interesting that there isn’t a category called, “Apps I’ll never NOT have.” There was “short-lived,” and “it has potential,” which seems to imply that you don’t expect a mobile app to hold a permanent place in your (mobile) life. Haven’t you found one you just can’t live without? It seems like Google Maps and OneBusAway are in this category, no?

  2. In my mind I was putting regularly used apps in the “it has potential” category, but you are absolutely right, there should be “I can’t live without” category, which is where my banking, navigating and scheduling apps would belong. At the same time, I think even for these apps to be truly permanent addition to my everyday life, their reliability and accessibility despite my location should be improved constantly. There is a very small margin of error especially with apps that help me to manage my finances.

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