There are a lot of reasons why we’re able to put the “smart” in “smartphone”. The operating systems and specs are continuously gaining ground on what we make entire computers on, the clarity of displays are nothing short of amazing at this point, and then of course you have some phones that have features like fingerprint sensors and voice control. These “phones” are some serious pieces of work; yet, probably the most important “smart” feature of all is the ability to run apps - not because it’s the smartest feature, but because it’s what most people value the most when it comes to smartphones. You could have a smartphone with the most wonderful display, amazing specs, and wonderful features in the world, but without apps the smartphone experience just wouldn’t be the same.
At this point I’ve had experience with every major platform on the market. I’ve used Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and most recently, BlackBerry 10. Every platform has their pros and cons, but when it comes to the latter two platforms my biggest issue has been the lack of available apps. Even though Windows Phone is constantly getting a slow trickle of official apps (and often times third party apps that work just as well - or better) and BlackBerry has the ability to sideload Android apps (and soon to have the Amazon App Store) it’s still hard to see either of these platforms as equals compared to Android or iOS. There isn’t anything really wrong with either platform, either, other than often times I just felt like I was missing out on something greater when I would visit the app store and my searches would often turn up empty.
The thing is, I don’t even use that many apps on a daily basis. I sometimes browse Facebook; I use Netflix and Spotify regularly; I occasionally browse Reddit; I have a couple of news apps; I do the occasional online banking. That’s about the extent of what I do on my phones. Pretty crazy, right?
Yet I still find myself disappointed anytime I browse the Windows Phone or BlackBerry app selection. Maybe I don’t do a whole lot on my phone right now, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever want a new exciting app that comes out sometime in the future. And if I want that new exciting app, everybody knows that chances are pretty high that these apps will appear on iOS or Android before making it to Windows Phone or BlackBerry... if ever.
It’s not that the apps are particularly bad (well, they are in BlackBerry’s case, but as I mentioned - sideloading) but they’re just not as... plentiful. And often times, especially in Windows Phone’s case, even the apps that are there have often times been haphazardly slapped together. Spotify might be there, but the interface is downright horrid compared to iOS or Android. Facebook is the same way. And while BlackBerry has the ability for Android apps to be sideloaded, the initial urge to want to go out of my way and set that up wasn’t met with a lot of excitement. As I get older, I find that I’m not as interested in tinkering with my phones as much as I once was.
I don’t use a lot of apps, but they are a huge part of why I enjoy using a smartphone so much. When I have the option to sink $199 on a phone that has the most apps with the best quality, or $199 on a phone where I’m going to have to make a lot of sacrifices in that important department, I end up wanting to go with the phone that has the most app potential. No matter how much I prefer the interface of one platform over another, if the apps aren’t there the experience just isn’t as grand. At least not for me.