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MOBILE APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT · HUGH KIMURA · APRIL 2014

Surprising Ways That Apps Change Lives (And Why Developers Have To Care)

Apps have the power to influence the lives of its users in more ways than you think. They can also affect developers in unexpected ways.

Regardless of what platform you are creating a mobile app for, the goal is always the same, to make an app that people will love and continue to use for a very long time. But do you really know how your app affects yourself and your users? This post will show you some interesting and fun examples of how apps do make an impact on people's lives and why app developers need to pay attention to them.

The Amazing

You may already know that people are doing cool things with your app, but you may not know how cool or how deeply it really does impact their lives. Apple is very good at showing their products in action and presenting interesting case studies.

Here is an example of one of their videos that shows how iOS apps are changing lives around the world. Our favorite is the app that adjusts prosthetic limbs.

Evernote is another example of a company that actively seeks out useful ways that users utilize their app. Their Ambassadors program recruits volunteers from the general public to go out and teach others how to best use Evernote products.

Our favorite use of the app? Using the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature to record the entire contents of your library with just a few pictures.

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As we dug through all of the reviews on the App Store, this was one of our favorites. It demonstrates the true value of a diet app by showing quantifiable results. Who would have thought that one little app could help you lose so much weight?

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The Dark Side

Of course, with the good comes the bad. Your app can have negative affects on you in ways that you may not expect. One example that comes to mind is when people start blaming your app for anything from their divorce to losing their job.

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The bottom line is that there are people who are looking to blame their problems on anything besides themselves and not take responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, your app may become the target of that misguided blame.

The most dramatic and surprising example was the recent Flappy Bird phenomenon. One may think that having a successful game that brings in thousands of dollars a month would be no reason to complain.

But in the case of Dong Nguyen, he couldn't handle the negative feedback from the people playing his game and took it down. If you want to read the complete story, Rolling Stone has a great interview with him.

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What This All Means To App Developers

There are two basic lessons that can be learned from these examples.

First, take some time to seek out great case studies of positive ways that people use your app. You may be surprised and inspired by what you discover. But don't stop there. Figure out ways to tell these stories in a compelling way, through interviews, quotes or videos.

To get some ideas, you can start looking through the reviews of your app or setup a Google Alert that notifies you whenever someone mentions your app online. Also consider starting some sort of evangelist group like Evernote does, that can help spread the word about your app.

Second, any time you sell a product, there are always going to be people who don't like you, your product, or both...for whatever reason. You have to develop thicker skin when it comes to listening to user feedback and learn how to filter out the useful comments from the worthless opinions. However, you should also keep in mind that negative press can hurt your app, so be prepared to actively deal with these situations, if need be.

No matter how big or small your app development company is, you can always do a better job of highlighting user success and protecting yourself from unwarranted attacks. Take a few minutes right now and write down some action steps that you can do in the next couple of days to move forward on these fronts.

What are the most surprising ways that people are using your app?

Photos: Rolling Stone


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Hugh Kimura

Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content

Date: April 2014

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