Last week, we asked the people in our Twitter and Facebook networks for their top iPhone apps. The driving force behind this query was our observation that the majority of people we know own an iPhone, and yet a lot of people wind up asking their friends for recommendations of interesting or useful apps. Of course, the Top Apps section in the iTunes store is always there for reference, but the problem there is one of curation. At the end of the day, would you trust Apple or people you know who have similar interests to you, when you’re looking for cool apps? I don’t think it’s much of a contest really – the power of the network is much stronger than most of us realise: I’m sure more than one of us has seen our friends ask for recommendations from their network on Facebook, whether they are experienced users of social media (read Foursquare and Twitter addicts) or not.
50 people responded to our call, and while we know that this is likely to be skewed in favour of people who are avid users of social media, there were a lot of apps that formed the long tail of our survey that may be interesting for people to know and download, if they haven’t already. Apologies in advance to people who know these apps like the back of their hand – I’m going to briefly summarise what the apps do for the benefit of those who don’t.
In the Lifestyle category, Amazon, eBay and Around Me, the app that allows you to quickly find out stuff you’re looking for in your immediate vicinity, were the frontrunners, with Epicurious clearly the most useful app for anyone who likes food and cooking. For UK users, Ocado, the online supermarket from the Waitrose chain, and Streetcar, the company that allows you rent cars by the hour, also feature in the lifestyle category.
The Games category had pretty much only 3 games repeatedly mentioned by our respondents: Angry Birds (also number 2 in the App Store currently, so no major revelation there), Drop 7, the ‘Tetris-meets-Sudoku’ game, and Words with Friends, the alternative to the much-loved Scrabble.
The Guardian blew the rest of the competition out of the water in the News category as mentioned earlier, but we should keep in mind that that’s a UK-biased app. Byline was the next most popular app in this category, and by allowing you to read all your saved Google Reader items even while offline, no wonder why. Reeder, which syncs with Google Reader, is similar, albeit slightly less popular than Byline. The New York Times also found a few mentions, representing the US media in this survey!
In the Productivity category,In the Productivity category,
Instapaper was by far the most popular app – small wonder because I know hardly any iPhone users who don’t sing its praise. Dropbox was next: the web version probably has fans amongst non-Apple users too, and anyone who uses their iPhone for work is likely to love the ease with which it allows you to sync and save files. Simplenote, which allows you to jot down notes and lists, Evernote, which goes one step further and allows you to create audio and visual notes in addition to text, and Things, the $9.99 app that functions as a task manager and a to-do list bring up the rear.
I know people who use their iPhone as their primary camera – I’m sure they have Hipstamatic (personally I love the effect of photos rendered with this app!), which was the most popular app in the Photography category. Pano, which allows you to take ‘beautiul, seamless panoramic photos straight from your phone’ and Flickr, were the other apps that found a mention in the Photography section.
The Travel category has a clear winner as far as Londoners are concerned: the Tube Deluxe app, which trumps London Bus. Close behind though was the Trainline iPhone app. Yelp was the other app that got a few votes in this category.
The Music category had a few expected names: Spotify of course, and Pandora, but Shazam, which helps you identify that awesome tune you’re listening to at that bar but just can’t remember the name of, was also quite popular.
Last but not the least, the social networking category: leaving aside Facebook and Twitter, there were Skype, Tumblr and Foursquare. The one app that seemed to be quite popular that I, at least, haven’t heard of too many times before was Whatsapp, the smartphone-to-smartphone messenger. There were quite a few Twitter clients as well: Echofon was the most popular, followed by Osfoora and Tweetdeck.
This is turning out to be quite a long post: on Monday, I’ll let you know the the bunch of apps that formed the long tail – so don’t forget to come back!