Over the course of 2016 there has been a new class of mobile applications that have attempted to get ahead by breaking the mold of traditional smartphone apps. By trying something new, these apps have used the attention (both positive and negative – looking at you Mrs. West) that they have garnered to propel them to the top of their respective app stores.
From manipulating photographs and delivering hyper-local weather reports, to delivering the news in a new way, these five apps have made their mark and set new benchmarks in their respective categories.
For Quartz, presenting the news was more about making it engaging than it was presenting everything going on in the world. Built with an interface similar to iMessage, Quartz makes the news feel like it is being personally presented to you by a real person in conversational form. Whereas most news apps are looking for ways to fit more stories into their apps, Quartz takes pride in curating only the top stories of the day, and delivering them in a unique way to keep the reader coming back.
Creating a weather app seems pretty straightforward, recognize the user’s location, and show them the forecast. However, Dark Sky has gained quite the following by expanding on the concept, by tapping into native device pressure sensors, as well as crowdsourcing tactics to ensure their users are getting the most accurate weather possible. It seems many people are very serious about their weather, as Dark Sky continues to rank as the number one weather app in the app store, and in the top 50 overall.
Snapchat has made a living out of turning features that you didn’t even know you needed into ones that you couldn’t live without. Take for example geofilters, which originally began as a way for brands to embed sponsored content into photos, but has evolved into something much bigger when it was opened up to the public. Opening up the opportunity to create a filter to everyone has allowed for brands and consumers alike to get creative and put their mark on something personal. The ephemeral nature of Snapchat photos make users much more likely to share a branded image, than they would if the image were permanent, as they are on Facebook or Instagram.
Whether or not you believe that the Kimoji app was earning Kim Kardashian West $1 million per minute, or that she “broke the App Store,” there is no denying that the reality star has found another way to make her mark, and stay relevant with such a simple offering. Not to be outdone, other public figures from NBA Superstar Steph Curry (StephMoji) to disgruntled actor Charlie Sheen (Sheenoji) have turned to emoticons to try and cash in on the over 6 billion emojis that are sent on a daily basis.
Many experts say that the best apps do only one or two things well, but they do them really well. MSQRD followed this adage well enough to garner the attention of Facebook, and led to an acquisition by the social media giant. The app allows users to add filters to photos and videos to add some flair to their photos. Even after the acquisition, the MSQRD app was allowed to stay as a free standalone app, exponentially increasing its downloads with the backing of Facebook and its 1.6 Billion users.