Right before I started writing this article, I picked up the iPhone 5 I carry around on a daily basis, and counted the number of applications I have currently installed on it. I didn’t count games; just the number of applications that I would imagine I use on a regular basis. After all, they’re installed on my phone, right? I probably use them enough to warrant their existence, taking up precious space that I could be using for more music. We all know that apps are an integral part of the smartphone industry these days. We include them in talks about a mobile operating system’s future. We talk about them when we want to know if we can even use a mobile OS. Because if it doesn’t have an app, it may make it relatively impossible to pick it up and replace your current phone of choice.
Apps are part of the conversation these days. That isn’t a bad thing, though. I love apps. I’m sure you have a few applications on your phone that you love, too. I’d do a little stretching and say that maybe, just maybe, you might not even be able to live without them, but I don’t want to go too far. No matter how often you download, use, or remove applications from your phone, I’d be willing to bet there’s at least one or two, and maybe a lot more, that manage to stay the course. Survive the cut, so to speak.
Before I reveal the number, I want to point out that my day-to-day phone usage is pretty much the same day-in and day-out. If I leave the house, it’s a tool for me to stay connected to those I need to stay connected to, while also giving me the music I so desperately need when out in public. When I’m stuck inside for a day, it sits next to me, letting me know about text messages and emails (a nice chorus sounds from my phone and computer. I’ve grown to like it.) So, that’s why I’m of the mind to assume that if there are apps on my phone, I more than likely use them on a daily basis.
(And, just to be clear, we’re talking about downloaded apps. Not pre-installed apps that come out of the box.)
So, the count. Right now, I’ve got a total of 31 applications on my phone. 31. For a brief moment I thought that that may be a lot of applications, but then a friend of mine, who I got in touch with during the writing process, told me that he has around 56 apps on his phone at any given moment. What’s more, he transfers some in, transfers some out, and does a lot of rearranging every day. Or every other day. Basically, his app situation is always evolving, but he says it always tends to stay around 50 apps or so.
31 applications may not be a lot of apps for my friend, but it is certainly a lot of apps for me. It may be too many apps for someone else. Everyone’s smartphone habits are different, and their application library is probably just as unique. We find apps that help us, entertain us, or otherwise educate us all in the hope of making our phone even better than it was when we bought it, and pulled it out of the box for the first time. I know that I rarely use my phone for making phone calls anymore, and the truth is I don’t mind that at all. My phone is something beyond that, and that’s just a truth I’ve accepted.
But, knowing I have thirty one applications on my phone made me start thinking about the amount of time I must use apps in my daily grind. With that many apps, I’d have to use at least a few of them every single day, without fail, right? Would it be anywhere close to all of them? Is that even possible? So I took a look at it, and I thought back to the last few days of my phone usage. Did I just binge on apps? Or could I afford to remove a few of them?
The immediate thing that popped up to me is that I have a few applications that are simply copies of another app I already have installed. For example, I have two calendar applications installed on my phone right now. I have no idea why. I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I open one of them and not the other, and yet it there it is, waving at me every time I go to the last page of my app icons. It even has a red, numbered badge, just reminding me with an extra visual cue that it exists.
On top of that, I’ve got two email clients installed on my phone right now. In my defense, though, it’s because one of them doesn’t have push notifications and one does. Why don’t I just use the one that has push notifications? Well, because I prefer actually using the other one. Hey, I know it’s weird, but I also know I’m not the only one that does it. (At least I don’t use one phone to notify me that I need to pick up another phone. I’m looking at you, Mr. Taylor Martin.)
The other apps? It’s a wide range of things, really. An app to help me freshen up on my Japanese (or basically learn it all over again). A few video streaming apps. Word processing applications, or note apps. Social networking tools. And my preferred music app. Cloud storage tools, too.
I have what I need, but the big question is: which apps do I use every single day? The apps that, for all intents and purposes, I absolutely need to have installed on my phone?
That’s actually a really easy answer, after I looked through what’s there. My email app(s) are essential, for obvious reasons. My music app is probably even more important. But the apps that I use more often than anything else? In point of fact, the apps that I open in the morning, multiple times during the day, and even a few times at night? My news apps. I have several, and I check every single one of them, in turn, multiple times every day. That’s a habit, but one that I don’t plan on breaking anytime soon.
I buy a lot of apps, I know this to be true. But, as it turns out, I don’t keep a lot of them on my phone. I checked the iTunes library, and I’ve currently got 103 applications (just for the iPhone) synced onto my computer. That doesn’t count all the apps I’ve downloaded, obviously. But it’s a good indicator that while I download plenty, I don’t keep many.
Just the important ones, it would seem.
So that means I’m somewhere between our very own Anna Scantlin, who has effectively stopped her own application buying routines; and an app hoarder, which Taylor Martin has talked about In the past. And you know what? I’m okay with being somewhere in the middle of that. I don’t use all my apps every single day, but I do use a few, and those apps are absolutely crucial to the routine of my day. (Hopefully that doesn’t mean I’d fall apart if they went away for whatever reason. But let’s not find out, okay?)
So I want to know which apps you use every single day, day-in and day-out without fail. Is it a news app? More than one? Or is it something a bit more out of the box? Let me know which apps you use every single day, and how important they are to your routine.