The Best Apps Keep Getting Better by @JennG_

There is an app for everything. I already knew that, but it became even more apparent while researching a technology feature for Connect magazine. There are apps that keep you organized, some that distract you from tasks and others that keep track of how much time you spend doing either. There’s even an app that helps you find the best apps.

More than 500,000 apps are available in the Apple store and 250,000 in the Android Marketplace. More will continue to be built everyday, but we might be approaching a bubble. How many more can we possibly need? The proliferation of apps has caused the best ones to rise to the top. A Nielson study shows that 43 percent of the time Android users spend using apps is on the 10 most popular ones.

Many apps are created to make up for something a commonly used app lacks. Developers then improve the original, making it more popular. Before Twitter’s recent update, you had to use a third-party application like Twitvid to post videos in your status. The December update to the Twitter app solved that and added functionality users requested such as auto-shortening links and retweeting options once only available through third-party apps. Advanced smartphones have removed the need for many one-off apps, too. No need to download a group texting app when the iPhone has that capability, and we’re just getting started with everything Siri has made obsolete. Then there’s HTML5, which might get rid of the need for apps altogether.

In the meantime, there’s one app a meeting planner has to have: a custom event app. Nowhere in the mobile world can attendees get your speaker information, schedule and event alerts. Attendees don’t need hundreds of niche apps, but they do need your app when they’re at your event.

Think about your attendees when designing your app. What do they want and how will they use it? Should you offer social media functionality if users prefer using Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare directly? Should your app link to Google Maps, one of the top 10 most used apps on every mobile device? Should gaming—the No. 1 most popular mobile activity—be a feature of your app?

Does your event have a custom app? What features are most used by participants?

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