Do Utility Apps Really Make Our Lives Simpler?

March 21, 2013 — 5 Comments


I have been wondering about the app economy recently. In particular I’ve been wondering whether, in aggregate, apps really improve the quality of our lives. It is estimated there are currently more than 1.5 million apps available on just the iOS and Android platforms. Just searching under the term ‘to-do lists’ on iOS returns more than 1,000 choices.

When there are 10 apps for everything you might want to do—including keep track of everything you might want to do—how do you decide which app to choose?

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

Tim Brown


5 responses to Do Utility Apps Really Make Our Lives Simpler?

  1. marcus behrens March 22, 2013 at 4:49 am

    … reminds me of the number of jams offered in a supermarket. Part of live is making choices.

    To do lists and personal productivity are very close to personal work and life style and taste. I suggest choice is necessary here. They are cheap enough and the matter is important enough to try a few.

  2. I absolutely agree. While some apps possess utility (Facetime, Uber), the sheer number leads to fragmentation and little serendipitous interaction within, and certainly among, apps.

  3. William Edmondson March 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I have found my ability to think deeply about a topic has been seriously hampered by the number of apps on my phone. If I choose I can always be distracted by new bits of data streaming to me 24/7. I have lately been turning of my phone for hours at a time. Turns out 0 might sometimes be the best number of apps.

  4. Good point, somehow you are always looking for the “even better” App. And you end up having your information distributed across so many Apps and file stores that you need to track where you’ve stored what.

    May be I should use the coming days to get rid of some of the stuff 🙂

  5. With respect to life management, I’ve used ToodleDo. and EasilyDo and I think there is a specific kind of person these apps help, but I am not one of them and for the life of me I cannot figure out why.

    I have generally assigned my personal to do list to the app and work to do to my trusty little notebook. I do think there is something inherently important to writing a task down which is negated when your thought process is interrupted by the touchscreen keypad.

    Other utility apps like Amazon that let you interact in a more meaningful manner at the store have been the most impactful on a day to day basis.

    Finally, exercise apps have been exceedingly beneficial – allowing me to train for my first half marathon and develop newer workouts at the gym.

    In short, I think it depends on the user.

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