iPhone Connecting People: The Apps That Helped Apple Take Nokia’s Motto
One of the most symptomatic differences between iPhone and pre-iPhone communicators was in keys under the screen. Windows Mobile devices (and then Symbian touch smartphones) held on to those green and red phone keys showing that they were primarily phone-oriented. iPhone swiped them off and reformed the essence of the smartphone. Post-iPhone smart devices (Android, Windows Phone and some other) also gave up these buttons.
So, iPhone pushed its phone features off the vanguard, so it did with Nokia that ruled the mobile market at that time. Instead of regular phone talking and SMS it brought a great lot of apps that changed the face of communication. Let’s review them, and remember that order, in fact, doesn’t matter. All of these apps share the same mission: connecting people. And they are all available for free.
We left behind some apps that still are important for history but are replaced by analogs now. We also had to sacrifice some apps functionally similar to others or having local popularity.
A kind of revolutionary app that in fact helps to connect to The Internet even without direct Wi-Fi, 3G, LTE, or even that prehistoric GPRS. You can use Bluetooth instead of it. Via Bluetooth the app connects to nearby devices with FireChat and uses the Internet as the companion’s app grants the access.
The app is developed for overload situations when networks are not ready to provide the whole crowd with Internet. It became famous after protests in Hong Kong where activists at the meeting had to use FireChat to connect to the Internet and to share the real-time truth.
So, this app is an emergency tool that helps you connect with others in the crowded place like a political meeting, a rock festival and so on. Not for everyday using, of course, but this survival tool won’t take much space in your memory.
Today’s phones and mobile Internet services are ready for broadcasting your own video stream wherever you are. An app (and a service) like Periscope had to spring up in our days. This service illustrates that all you need to make your own streams is already in your pocket. And it’s up to you to make other people watch it and leave heart-shaped signs to show they like what they see.
It was started as a response to another similar service, Meerkat. And yes, Periscope had some aces in its sleeve like the elaborate design, Twitter’s name behind and (last but not least) a better name. Suddenly Periscope is not as much integrated with Twitter as it could have been.
Maybe the best sign of Periscope’s importance for the community is the word “periscope” becoming a verb like it has happened to “google”. Yes, you can periscope what’s around now.
Since texting became available on our phones it became a separate end extremely popular kind of communication. Silent, data-saving, easily stored and read messages had no flaws but one: unlimited texting plans were expensive, and maxing limited plans was even more of that.
WhatsApp solved this problem by transferring texting into Internet dimension where you only have to pay $0.99 a year if you were unlucky enough - which is about to change though. But millions of users are still using this service or free since 2011. So WhatsApp became a total breakthrough. Being not bound to one ecosystem it connected iOS, Android, Windows Phone and even Google Chrome users for almost no price.
The service is owned by Facebook now, and that may be the reason the app remains free for much longer time than it had been promised. The functionality has grown since then. Now you can make voice calls, share a different kind of data and save big. And if you only use it for texting you don’t even need a fast Internet connection.
As Facebook’s Messenger has almost the same functionality, we’ll mention it here and leave it alone. Sorry, Mr. Zuckerberg, we know it’s a powerful thing, but you have made a more significant thing that we’ll pay attention to later.
Our memory is what our personality is built upon. The Timehop developers found a great way to find something to share. There are always memories carved in social network services. Isn’t it curious and exciting to recollect suddenly what you were doing a year or a two earlier on this day?
That’s where Facebook took this feature from. But the Timehop does a better job of digging out our memories and sending them back to the future us. And it integrates your Facebook account, your Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare and even your phone. You can share these memories or just shake the dust off them and lay them back on the shelf.
If you search for the word to describe how our life transformed with all these digital innovations, we already have it for you: it’s LOGGED. And each your step is being logged, not by you only, but also by your friends and fellows. But what if you want to share some moments of your life that are not meant for logging?
Snapchat is all about this. The app sends messages like almost any communicative app, but these messages are ephemeral. So you don’t have to mark your messages with “burn after reading”: a time bomb is already installed within each of them. And, although a lot of developers tried to make “their own Snapchat, with blackjack and bookers”, but there can be only one.
And yes, it has become extremely popular, despite its tricky interface that’s said to be “not for parents” as they just won’t make it out. It’s rather a protection cascade than a flaw. So youngsters with swift brains are quicker to master this app than their cliché-minded parents. And yes, the developers confirmed the underground status of the app by refusing a 3-billion offer from Facebook. So, it’s the offer for the young and for their vulnerable privacy.
In fact, the service doesn’t swipe away traditional features (filters, news, channels, even geo-filters and sponsored stories) and does know where the money is. But hush, hush, don’t touch that independent rock-n-roll fairy tale.
It may sound funny now but Path tried to get more social by getting less social. There is a 50 rule that claims you only need 50 names in your phone book if you want to deal with your business and family successfully. The developers of the Path shared the same way of thinking. So you can’t add as many friends as you wish in Path; you’ll have to select 50 people you really want to share your life with. A smaller number means a greater trust and openness.
Another thing about Path is its design that’s been material before it went mainstream. The esthetical thinking of its creators deserved a greater success. In fact, Path’s audience now is limited to a small circle of publicity haters. But it’s still here, in case you need a quiet private place.
Dating services were among the most obvious and promising ideas since Internet became available. But it’s tinder that has made the idea really mobile and location-based. Instead of long preparations you get straight to the core.
The main idea of the app is minimizing the time it takes to turn your virtual connection to the real one. You don’t have to register at all, authorization is Facebook-based. All you need is decide if you like your proposed match. If you do, swipe right; if you don’t, swipe left. If you want to see more pics, just tap on the photo. You can also start the chat right in the app though the ideology of the service suggests you shouldn't waste much time on online chatting.
Tinder also has good chances to become a verb, if it hasn’t already.
Well, here comes the exception, a social platform that received a great assistance from the state. WeChat (or Weixin) had a good ground to grow on, as global social networks are almost totally banned in China. And it has much more power than it takes to chat. With WeChat Chinese users can create group chats, play web games, read the news, and so on. The service is even integrated with payment systems so its users can transfer money to each other or pay bills.
The decision to make a platform for interactive account-based services was right. WeChat is full of brands, celebrities, shops, businesses advertising themselves through this network. This network seems to be a little Internet concentrate within one particular service. Maybe Confucius would have approved this method of keeping users activities in order.
It’s funny but that’s the case of third-party developers outrunning the official service. Today’s Twitter app for iPhone is based on the famous Tweetie, the app that introduced the pull-to-refresh concept to us all. But anyway, Twitter and mobile devices are a perfect pair. All you need is to launch the app and to write a 140-symbol post. There’s no need to speak about Twitter importance at the end of 2015, it’s obvious. But this role could be taken by Twitter with a little help from mobile apps.
Whet’s primary: today’s crazy life tempo, mobile devices, and Internet spreading or Twitter’s briefness? Hard to tell, but they go together very well. Twitter now allows posting photos and videos, links and locations, sending private messages, liking and retweeting posts you like, but first of all, you have to fit the essence in those 140.
Of course, it’s Facebook that should crown this list. Not only because it represents the world’s greatest social network. The app itself is a masterpiece that encourages you to write more statuses, to read what your friends are up to, to plan your events and share them, to repost things you like and to like everything you like (sorry for too many “likes” but who will ever say they need less?)
Another advantage of the Facebook app is direct integration with iOS on the system level. iPhone user can benefit from it in many ways (for example, use Facebook authentication in third-party apps easier, upload photos from Camera roll automatically, sync contacts and so on).
Today Facebook app brings more and more new features every day. It seems that Apple should preinstall this app or include it into iOS directly to save users’ time and efforts. So hard it gets to find an iPhone without Facebook (and, of course, Messenger) icon on the main home screen.