I read an article (okay, it was a quick post) this week on pocketnow.com that questioned the importance of apps and whether one can have too many. Another post on Android Central asked Droid users what their must-have apps were. The responses that I read were a bit shocking to me, particularly when you consider that these posts were geared toward owners of high-end phones designed to take advantage of apps. In the former article, 47% used less than five apps while only 12% used more than eleven apps. In the latter article, people were actually able to list their must-have apps. You’ll see later why this is surprising to me. As the title of this article suggests, I like apps. Actually, that’s not true. I love apps. I am an app junkie. But I don’t just like apps because they are there. They have to be useful, entertaining or both. They have to provide me with something that either enriches my life or makes my life easier in some way. A nice user interface is nice but not a necessity. Function over form, I always say.
The poll on pocketnow.com asked their readers how many apps they use on the regular basis by which they meant “apps that you spend at least a few moments with several times per week.” But the strange thing is that their poll gave only these three choices: a) Probably less than 5 b) 6-10 c) I’m an appoholic! The use of the word “appoholic” (meaning one who is addicted to apps) to describe a person who uses only a dozen or so apps on the regular basis is a bit of an overstatement. Actually, it’s a huge overstatement. I use a dozen apps before I even make my coffee. I don’t know if the poll was counting system apps (I don’t see why it wouldn’t have been) but I use the following apps before I even get out of bed in the morning: Agenda Widget, Gmail, Handcent, NewsRob, Market, Browser, Touiteur and Music. Add Facebook, XDA, Google Finance and a weather app and I’m nearing dozen apps before I make it to the kitchen. Oh, and since I actually woke up, I’ll throw in my alarm clock app (I’m still deciding on which one I like best) which actually did the waking. There, I’m over a dozen before breakfast. And those are guaranteed. Obviously, depending upon what I receive in my email in the morning, it’s possible that I use Repligo Reader, Documents to Go, Gallery, BlackMoon AttachSave, Astro and a host of other apps that allow me to save, view and open email attachments. All this and I haven’t even counted apps like my keyboard (one of perhaps three or four depending upon my mood) and other apps that are running in the background such as CacheMate (shameless plug), Sound Manager, GBlocker, dg QuickCut and Battery Monitor. And there are also those that need to be run only once in awhile, such as AdFree, to keep the phone working the way I like.
Then there are apps that, while I do not use them every single day, or even every week, are vitally important to have. I may not need to look up businesses in the yellow pages every day but when I need to do so, the Yellowbook app on my phone is indispensable. I use eBay a lot but not every day. Perhaps I have a use for one of the two eBay apps on my phone once or twice a week. I don’t use Epocrates on the regular basis but when I was sick for nearly a month and was prescribed ten different medications, Epocrates was really good to have around. Realistically, I will probably only use Epocrates a couple of times a year. There are a number of apps that fall into this category but when I need them, they are must-have apps.
So it’s hard to say how many apps I use on the “regular basis” or what apps are “must-have apps.” Could I live without certain apps. Of course. Is my life easier because of those apps. Of course. But I could also have a must-have app that I use once a month or even once a year but also one that I use fifty times a day. It all depends. I use Titanium Backup pretty much once a night to backup my phone and I also use it whenever I need to restore something. This is both a must-have app and and app I use on the regular basis. Album Art Grabber, while neither an app I use on the regular basis or a must-have app is an app I found very useful even though I only used it two or three times since I bought it. I don’t use N1 Torch on the regular basis but for me, it is a must-have app. So must-have apps can be apps that you only use once, like Album Art Grabber, or ones that you use many times a day, such as your Twitter app. The opposite is also true. You may play a game many times a week but not consider the app a must-have app.
All told I have over 350 apps including system apps. While I am certain that I can probably get rid of some, I am also certain that it would not be too many of them. I like games a lot and over 75 of my total number of apps is made up of various games. Perhaps I don’t need all those games but I like to have them around. Most are for me and some are for my kids. It’s nice to have a quick way to kill some time without being constructive (just one more level left on Raging Thunder 2). But even if I exclude games, I still have about 275 apps. If I take it one step further and exclude apps I consider “Fun Stuff” (that’s for an entirely different article) such as soundboards, my metal detector and my Etch a Sketch (and perhaps even Google Earth and Google Sky Map fall into this category), I’m down to about 250 or so. That’s still a lot but I don’t think I have too many. After all, isn’t this one of the big reasons I bought a “phone” for nearly $600? If I wanted a phone, which I barely use, I’d buy one. I don’t have a phone; I have a computer and computers use programs or “apps.”
I suppose that apps can be broken down into a few usage categories. There are apps that you must-have, apps that you like to have around and apps that you don’t need but like to have. Each of these can be further defined by how often you use them. Perhaps you use them several times a day. Perhaps several times a week. Or perhaps only once or twice a month or even once or twice a year. So for me, Raging Thunder 2 is an app that I don’t need but enjoy having around. I also use it between 4-12 times a week. Maybe you have an app, like a dictionary app, that is a must-have for the one or two times a month you really need it. Maybe there is an app that you actually use many times a day but don’t even need at all. Very often, how important an app is and how often you use it are not necessarily related points. Finally, there is the rare category of apps that are must-have that I hope to never use and those include apps like Remote Wipe and kor.im (or other phone tracking apps). So while I don’t use Amazon.com, Car Locator or Barcode Scanner every day, these are must-have apps for me.
So whether it’s the fact that I have several file explorers for different purposes or several streaming media apps, I find that apps fall into various categories of usage. How often an app is used and how important the app is are not mutually exclusive. Just because an app is used once a month doesn’t make it less important than an app that is used multiple times a day. Personally, I’d much prefer to find my phone’s location one time using a phone finder app than all the times I play a particular game. That said, for me, the more apps the better. Thanks to being able to install apps to the SD card, I have plenty of space for app storage and my Nexus One is brilliant at jumping from one app to the next without missing a beat. The more apps people buy, the better the platform becomes and the more having apps becomes important. Apps are fun and useful and as far back as I can remember, I have been using apps in one form or another to get through my day (even before computers had color monitors). Whether I’m reading a book using Aldiko or listening to the Mets on MLB At Bat 2010 (or both at the same time), I’d hate to have to start or end my day without apps. When it comes to apps, there is no such thing as too many.
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