August 10, 2020
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Appsolutely Perfect

Eat, drink, play...there’s an app for everything. Outlook brings you the top five in 40 categories

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Appsolutely Perfect

Five years ago, smartphones were marketed and sold on the basis of the features they had: ­music players, cameras and battery life. Today, they are judged on what apps (short for applications) they can run. More specifically, whether they have the memory and space to store and run these apps efficiently. In fact, these phones are now rated on the basis of exactly how good an experience they provide in hosting and running such apps.

In the past few years, a parallel ecosystem has developed around mobile phones and tablets, one that is racing to create and provide apps for everything. And everyone—young, old, kids and women. This year, there were over 100 billion app downloads across the world, 90 per cent of this on two major app dumps: Apple’s App Store catering to Apple’s own universe of mobile devices and Google Play for Android phones.

Although according to technology research firm Gartner, over 90 per cent of all app downloads this year were free, revenue from app downloads has tripled globally since 2011. Even in India, revenue from paid apps is expected to more than double from around Rs 300 crore in 2012 to over Rs 600 crore this year. Following this, leading app stores Apple and Google are ramping up their app arsenal. Apple’s App store’s strength has grown from 900,000 in June to over a million now. Google Play is also around the same number while Windows and BlackBerry are catching up in this game.

Baijayant Jay Panda, Politician
I use a smartphone app from, an Amazon subsidiary which provides audiobooks. I read/listen to around three books a month. Just finished The Siege and have started Hussain Haqqani’s Magnificent Delusions.
  Roopa Ganguly, Actress
I use Mapometer a lot. It’s a great way to find directions. I love the apps for music downloads and iTunes. But my use of apps is need-based. One of my favourite iPad apps is the scanner, I love its features. These are truly life-changing inventions.

Maneka Sorcar, Magician
The Angry Birds app has a therapeutic effect on me. I’m quite hot-tempered, so this really helps calm me down. The way the birds dish out revenge on the greedy pigs who stole their eggs speaks of the unique, magical powers each one of us has to trounce our enemies.
  Nirav Sanghavi, Founder, Blogadda
Pocket is my favourite. I’ve been using it from the time it was called ‘Read it later’. When you want to read something later, you can add it to Pocket. It works on my desktop browser as well as in many other apps that I use and syncs across all devices.

Bikram Ghosh, Tabla player, Actor
I mainly use two apps on my iPhone: iTanpura and ThumbJam. Of course there are hundreds and thousands of musical apps but I find these two most useful. The iTanpura provides the background tanpura sound for my practice sessions and the Thumbjam is, well, “quite incredible”.
  K.T. Rama Rao, TRS leader, Sircilla MLA and son of K. Chandrasekhara Rao
I use MapMyWalk, when I exercise in the morning. This app tells me the calories I burn, my speed, the distance covered. I also use mySugr. It helps regulate my routine, records my blood sugar levels and keeps one updated on the health front.

Shobha Narayan, Author
As a writer, I use Freedom, which disallows access to the Internet and thus cuts out distractions. I also use Self-control which allows you to blacklist sites which are disruptive. I also use many apps for memory
improvement like IQ Boost.
  Vivek Oberoi, Actor
The app I use most is Twitter. It helps me stay in touch with my fans and keep them connected to my world. A daily dose of
Twitter brings a big smile on my face because of all the unconditional love I get from my adorable fans!

Prem Panicker, Managing Editor, Yahoo! India
I use a lot of reading apps like the Kindle app, Byline, Longform and Readability. I also use Newsstand to read magazines, Wunderlist to keep track of my tasks and Tumblr as I use a Tumblr blog.
  Chinmayee Sripada, Singer
I am an apps buff enough to launch my own app two years ago. I use Tweetbot to access Twitter. I use Adobe Photoshop to edit my pictures. Quizcross lets you play quizzing games. Then, of course there’s Whatsapp and Emoji. Since am a musician most important is itablapro which has many taals, any raaga.

So what exactly is an app and what does it do to make it so popular among anyone using a mobile phone or tablet? Well, simply put, an app is a software application designed to run (largely with the internet, but often without it) on a smartphone or tablet. A majority are free, but a small number of paid apps are doing well too. They perform just about any function, from checking news to booking tickets on a plane to finding a doctor. In fact, apps have today become the de facto mode for interacting with people—as well as for more businesslike things like promoting movies and products.

It’s a jungle of apps out there, which makes choosing the right one for you that much more difficult. That’s why we hope this special listing of the 200 best apps—the top five candidates across 40 diverse categories—should serve up a holistic and secular offering. How did we do it? We crowd-sourced the popular choice of apps by reaching out to people in different age and peer groups to find out which apps move them and why. Above all, our key finding wasn’t surprising--people across age groups and social and economic strata are using apps as a way of life, for studies, for jobs, for shopping, for health and fitness, or just for fun.

Gartner projects 268 billion app downloads annually, accounting for as  much as around $77 billion in revenues. A lot of that action will happen in India. With app revenues expected to touch Rs 2,000 crore in India by 2016, just three years from now, there is a lot of action coming this way. We hope you pick up some new apps from this listing—and get as much pleasure out of using them as we did in putting together this extensive, varied master list of the best apps of our times.

Click on the thumb images above to navigate to listings for other apps. To see the slideshow in a different window, please click here.

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