We’ve been reading a lot in recent years about how people don’t download new Apps and how App discovery and the App Store are broken. The latter may not directly cause the former, but there’s definitely some impact. Apple wants you to use Apps; Apps make their expensive hardware that much more valuable to you. They even acknowledged this with that cute little video to kick off WWDC 2017. And it followed that Apple announced a whole new App Store for iOS 11. Apple’s Developer Site boasts: “Now the App Store has been redesigned from the ground up to provide a beautiful place to showcase amazing apps and to help customers discover new favorites.”
While the App Store was due for a change, I think the future of App discovery is the OS and not another App. I can’t remember the last time I downloaded an App just from browsing the App or Play Store. Yes, one has to go to the Store to download an App (for now), but you probably came to the store because you heard about this App from someone/somewhere else or there’s a specific action you’re trying to complete. Now this second part is where I think the opportunity exists.
App Discovery should be contextual. In a recent post on Notifications, Scott Belsky wrote about a ‘Notification Layer API‘ that “would take all kinds of data into account, like your location, your schedule, your propensity to engage with certain apps at certain times…” to make the Notifications you receive smarter. I propose this, but for App Discovery.
If you know me, you’re probably aware that I have a borderline obsession with Tennis. I love playing the game, but I follow it with even more passion. One of the enablers of this passion is the ATP/WTA Live Scoring App for iOS. The app is dead simple: it provides live, point-by-point scores for every match on the ATP(Association of Tennis Professionals), WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and Challenger (This is what Triple-A is to MLB) Tours. The Tennis season is basically year round, with multiple tournaments per week, which have multiple matches per day. So the number of opportunities I have to open this app and see something new is really, really high. And so I open this app more times per day than I’d like to admit 😐
The App navigation is pretty straightforward, allowing you to quickly scan through active tournaments, daily schedules, and individual match statistics. The app won’t win an Apple Design Award at WWDC, but that’s not the point. The ‘point’ is that you can see live scores, updated in almost real time. The app has a setting that allows you to enable Auto Refresh of scores (I set that to ON, duh) and a setting for the Refresh Interval (10s is the fastest). According to the FAQ “As all data is received directly from the assigned ATP/WTA Chair Umpires, the data is considered official.”
I’ve “played” guitar for the past 15 years or so and I’m still mediocre at best. This is probably because of my lack of natural talent and/or lack of consistent practice time. I enjoy playing, but, as with most things, it’s easier to just not do them. While the talent gap may be hard to overcome, I found an app to make the practicing much easier – it’s called Yousician.
I initially downloaded their Guitar Tuna app to tune my guitar (as i was prepared to embark on my latest push to start playing again) and then found Yousician. Here’s a 30-second video overview:
Yousician has a syllabus for your instrument of choice (i chose rhythm guitar) and does a great job of progressing you from beginner levels to more advanced ones. While many guitar courses offer similar curriculum, Yousician actually tracks your progress through the courses and sends you reminders to continue or to finish a lesson. The reminders come in the form of email, but I would love for Yousician to use push notifications for the app*. They could learn from Duolingo, who sends reminder pushes at a time you specify.
Not sure if this made any noise outside of the Tennis world, but Roger Federer posted a live-practice session via Periscope on December 22. The ‘event’ was very well produced, with multiple camera angles and a mic’d up Federer. You can catch it on-demand here.
What struck me most about this was the level of access fans were given. I follow Federer on Twitter and Instagram, but now I’m watching my favorite tennis player (and arguably the GOAT) talk me through a practice session! That’s pretty insane, no?! I, and I’m sure many others, would have paid a few dollars to watch this, either live or on-demand.
So can this become a thing? You buy Kimojis and DurantEmojis in the App Store, so why not pay a one-time fee or even recurring subscription for access to your favorite celebrity, artist or athlete?
About a month ago, I started using an app called Gyroscope to track both my digital and analog self. Gyroscope integrates with a host of other apps to allow you to see the complete story of your life (isn’t that a One Direction song?). For example, integrate Healthkit or FitBit to track your steps, Moves for places you’ve visited, Rescue Time for online behavior, etc. It took a while to set up b/c I also had to download some of these other apps, but it was worth it IMO.
The consolidation and display of all this tracking is where Gyroscope really shines. Here’s a Weekly Report the app generates:
You can select individual categories at the bottom of the screen to get more detailed info on each one.
One minor complaint about the app is that the UI/X, while striking, can be a bit un-intuitive at times. For example, you can tap into each date in the report screen – it took me a few weeks of using the app to realize this. I also have the urge to swipe in a few places that don’t allow for swiping 🙂
Despite this, Gyroscope does have one of my favorite interactions on mobile. I love how they ask you to identify a location with Moves on this screen:
Tap on the button at the bottom and it takes you to the Moves app where you can add the location. The button is dead simple and using the Moves logo makes it clear what will happen. And with iOS 9 app switching, it’s just one tap to get back to Gyroscope. Done and done.