There are over 1.5 million apps in the App Store, and most of them are largely forgettable- but not all. As mobile evolves the way brands interact with their customers, apps play a huge role in this disruption, influencing everything from how we eat, shop, and exercise, to how we navigate the world around us.
In the infographic above, we explore 14 apps that have forever altered their industries. Read below to explore each app in depth and learn why these apps are true game-changers.
Many restaurants aren’t exactly pros when it comes to online marketing. With pages of downloading PDF menus and exasperating (and sometimes downright awkward) phone calls with busy restaurant workers, ordering out wasn’t exactly a trial prior to food-ordering apps, but it was no walk in the park either.
Apps like Seamless, GrubHub, and Delivery Hero have become the loveable middlemen, letting customers browse menus, clip coupons, check out other customers’ food photos, see a restaurant’s most popular dishes, and more, all from the comfort of one’s couch. For apps connected with PayPal, ultra-lazy eaters don’t even need to reach for their wallet (no judgment here, I’m definitely one of those lazy eaters overjoyed whenever I see a PayPal button)!
With a focus on user experience and a (literal) seamless ordering process, apps like Seamless, GrubHub, and Delivery Hero have become the marketing mavericks that the restaurant industry was sorely lacking. We can thank them for our full bellies.
Industry: Taxi and transportation service
Taxis haven’t exactly been made famous for their incredible customer service. With archaic payment systems (are you sure that credit card reader is broken?) and grumpy drivers, taxi transportation was in desperate need of an upgrade.
Uber answered the call by creating a new, 21st century car ride service, making them our automobile angels.
Industry: GPS Navigations / Maps
MapQuest had already pushed classic maps and road atlases to the wayside (they’re now charming collector pieces of nostalgia, predominately used for vintage wall art and Pinterest crafts). However, Google Maps one-upped MapQuest by baking reliable directions right into your smartphone.
With easy-to-access maps, plus free turn-by-turn navigation, Google Maps made top-of-the-line GPS units like TomTom and Garmin irrelevant for any smartphone user.
Today, having a navigation system constantly at your fingertips has resulted in Google Maps being used for all manner of exploration. From street directions to the nearest CVS, to a seven-day cross-country road trip from NYC to LA, no journey is too big or too small for Google Maps.
Industry: Communication / News
Twitter has forever altered the way news is delivered, with users glued to their Twitter streams rather than their TV screens.
Since Twitter, news no longer needs to be delivered by a well-coifed news anchor. Instead, news today can be delivered by any individual with a Twitter handle and fast fingers, exemplified memorably in 2011 when user @ReallyVirtual broke news of the Navy Seal’s infiltration of Osama Bin Laden’s compound raid (without even realizing it).
Twitter has democratized news, making it anyone’s job to deliver the latest news of the moment.
Kindle and Audible didn’t just make reading digital and more accessible – they also had a tremendous impact on the popularity of certain genres.
Many cite eBooks and new digital reading mediums as partially responsible for the success of erotica novels like 50 Shades of Grey. Readers who may have previously felt embarrassed of reading non-Shakespearean literature (to put it generously) were empowered to read all manner of text through the privacy of e-readers and audio narration.
Industry: Dating & Romance
Online dating apps make it easier than ever before to meet a potential match – and also easier than ever to moon over alternatives and seek greener pastures when things go sour in your current relationship.
In a study conducted by sociologist James H. S. Bossard, it was found that in the 1930s, 1/3 of couples married someone within a 5-block radius of them. Today, an online flirtation can be whipped up with anyone around the world. For better or for worse, dating apps have undeniably altered today’s relationship landscape.
Gyms get awfully nervous about fitness apps, and it’s really no wonder. Apps like RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal can keep track of calories burned, run pacing, distance, and tons more deep workout data. Meanwhile, apps like Zombies, Run! turn exercising into an interactive game, complete with compelling stories and points that can be earned and used for in-game activities.
With devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit, fitness apps are encroaching on personal trainer property, reminding users when to exercise, tracking cumulative movement and daily activity, and setting user goals, all with the help of heart rate sensors, GPS, and accelerometers.
As fitness apps become even more sophisticated, gyms will need to re-evaluate their traditional annual contracts and exorbitant enrollment fees if they want to compete with these affordable and ingenious workout apps.
Ever since the Napster era, traditional record label companies have seen the writing on the wall (although they did their best to paint and wallpaper over it in denial). A series of awkward interludes followed before Apple launched the pay-per-song concept with the iTunes Store.
Spotify took the iTunes Store concept and perfected it, introducing a pay-per-month streaming music subscription service that could be used across devices. With a free version for those who don’t mind ads, Spotify has become the go-to music service, convincing even long-standing music pirates that streaming was the way to go.
Today Spotify boasts 60 million active users, making music accessible for the masses (no Discman required).
Most of us were already using our smartphones to take photos prior to Instagram, but Instagram made us feel like talented professionals. With Instagram’s plethora of filters and styling options, suddenly everything from breakfast to an old receipt on the sidewalk became beautiful and worthy of sharing.
This beautifying of the mundane has encouraged us to take increasingly more pictures. Instagram (and really, smartphone cameras in general, with their ever-improving specs) have changed how we think of photography and cameras. No longer expensive devices for special occasions, cameras are now pre-installed into our lives via smartphones, used mostly as a casual afterthought.
Robinhood is the stock-trading app that saves the day, taking from the rich and giving to the poor (but soon to be wealthy with those smart stock shares).
While traditional stock trading requires dishing out dinero for broker commissions, Robinhood lets you buy and sell stocks through their mobile app, 100% commission-free. The app also streams real-time market data and notifies users about important updates to their stocks.
Robinhood shows the major benefits apps can provide over competitors by cutting out brick and mortar locations and passing on the savings to us peasants. It’s apps like Robinhood that make many a merry men.
Mobile payment has been a strange beast that we knew was coming, but couldn’t exactly say when (or what its many heads might look like). Venmo has been the game changer that earned the coveted place in many of our phones.
Venmo makes it easy to pay back friends – whether for gas money, a round of drinks, or a fantasy football payout. Remarkably, Venmo is completely free, with no commissions if you’re hooking up the app to your bank account (there is a fee for credit card transactions however). Venmo’s clean design earns the trust of its users, and its fun feed of transaction explanations adds a slight social element, making it into the perfect mobile payment app for money-wielding millennials.
Any other amazing apps you think deserve to be featured? Tell us your pick for industry-disrupting apps and tell us why they are game changers in the comment section below!
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