With the rise of social networking and PDA technology came the expansion of social applications, mini programs designed to make your life easier or more fun when using your cell phone or a tablet, for instance. Nowadays we witness a world where a company with 13 employees and 12 months of experience is bought for over a billion US dollars simply because they made a popular application for iPhone. From kids to serious professionals, everyone enjoys literally millions of apps designed to do whatever you want – from stock monitoring, to weather report generation, to music identification. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of options and overhwelm the capacity of your cell phone. Whether you’re a pilot or a stock broker, Apple, RiM and many other companies offer an abundance of application designed to facilitate your everyday endeavors, such as ordering food or identifying the song you liked, but didn’t know its name. This article is designed to introduce you to several most popular social applications/websites, and perhaps make your life and/or work more fun:
Hunch – we already wrote about this one. Possibly the most controversial social networking site today, it uses your personal information and answers to a series of specific questions to map your personal preferences about… well, everything. Then it continually provides you with suggestions on which websites, restaurants, shirts or books you might be interested in, among other things. While the fact that a website uses all of your personal information, even political preferences, to ’map’ your taste and connect you with everyone else around the globe, could be problematic if misused, with over 15 million unique users monthly, Hunch remains a popular place for all ambivalent people who would like to see, taste, or try something new.
Pinterest – one of the fastest growing social services in the world, Pinterest is a pinboard-like photo sharing website for those who wish to create and share image collections relating to their personal taste. On Pinterest, one can create a gallery of personal or generic images for an event, their hobby or anything they find interesting. As a global platform, like Hunch, Pinterest is oriented toward connecting the people worldwide based on their interests in something. By allowing users to ’pin’ their new favorite image to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest reaches out to the widest audience imaginable.
Instagram – a new photo sharing application, which gained tremendous popularity seemingly out of nowhere. Instagram is very simple – it provides users with a digital filter to make the images they take on their cell phones (iPhone and Android only, for now) look ’vintage’. While its incredible popularity is hard to explain, the company with only 13 employees was recently sold to Facebook for over a billion US dollars.
Shazam – an application that truly makes life easier for any music lover, Shazam is a music identification app that uses cell phone’s microphone to collect a sample of the music being played and identify the performer and track name. By cooperating with iTunes, Youtube and Spotify, Shazam has an incredibly large central database against which the samples are compared and subsequently identified. Its basic version is free, and allows you to ’tag’ five songs per month, while the paid version, Shazam Encore, allows for unlimited tagging. Its only disadvantage being the ability to recognise only prerecorded music, Shazam is a must-have for all people who like trying out new music and being aware of what they’re listening to at all times.
Spotify – a social music streaming application for computers and mobile devices. Based in Sweden, Spotify offers digitally restricted streaming of music by virtually any artist you can think of, ranging from indie debutants to major label demigods. The application gained millions of users in a matter of months, and now being accessible in the US, is bound to give iTunes a run for its money. It supports most OS and mobile platforms and is tied with its partner Facebook, which makes it even more social. Users activate a six-month trial period upon logging in with their Facebook account, and after the period expires, can either purchase a subscription, or continue using it for free, but with limitations to ten hours of streaming per month. Spotify is also potent because it enables users to purchase streamed music through partner retailers, but the the feature that makes it truly powerful is the users’ ability to share the songs and playlists they listen to with their social media friends.
WhatsApp – possibly the most useful chat application available. WhatsApp is an instant messaging application for cell phones, enabling users to share messages, pictures, links, etc… This doesn’t appear as a revolutionary product at first, but throw in its multi-platform character, and you got yourself a winner. After RiM’s Blackberry Messenger application’s popularity worldwide, an even better idea was to design an internet-based application that would enable the users of iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Symbian to communicate through a single chat application. WhatsApp even adds to your convenience by detecting all your contacts who have the application automatically, and it’s free for a year – afterward it’s $0.99.
Badoo – With over 150 million users, Badoo is a social network/mobile device application where you can meet new people. Essentially a dating-focused social discovery site, it operates in 180 countries and is one of the most popular websites/applications in the world. It is a free application allowing users to create a profile and then find, chat with and meet the people around them. It offers a number of features for finding the right ’match’ for someone to talk with or date, including the Encounters game, where users can browse pictures and state which other users they would like to meet.
Foursquare – designed to literally get you closer to your friends, this is a location-based social networking website/app for mobile devices, which enables users to check-in at a specific location, based on their GPS hardware. This way users can inform their friends of their whereabouts and also earn points and ’badges’ for a certain number of check-ins at a particular place. The company has over 20 million users and an average of over three million check-ins daily. To this day, over two billion check-ins were recorded. One of the most popular features of Foursquare is ’Tips’, where users write their suggestions about things to do and places to visit and experience.
There is a great website to try out if you don’t feel like sifting through your cell phone’s or computer’s app stores – http://socialapps.org/ is a social media blog with latest news and updates on the most popular social media and apps.