10 most downloaded iPhone apps in the world

It might be surprising to Americans, but neither Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube is the most downloaded app on the iPhone anymore. As we continue to move into the 21st Century, we’re seeing the rise of Chinese apps and companies. This will only escalate in the coming years, especially as the US seems more preoccupied with tribalistic policies.

“Known as Douyin in China, Tik Tok is a music video and social media app. The app lets you shoot and edit short clips, then add music and special effects to them. Tik Tok is owned by the same parent company that bought social video app Musical.ly for $1 billion last year”

Facebook-owned apps dominated the App Store charts during the first three months of the year, but a Chinese-made music video app called Tik Tok took first place – Business Insider

Iris Hospital Alert App

Once installed, Iris automatically detects you in a hospital. After remaining there for 10 minutes, Iris reaches out to confirm if you’re okay or not via a push notification. If everything’s okay, perfect, just hit the the button to confirm and Iris will go into the background again. If you’re not ok and Iris doesn’t get a confirmation from you, the emergency contacts you chose upon sign up will be informed via text message. Iris will also present your personal health card on the lock screen of your iPhone so ER staff can access your important health and personal data including your name, health status, spoken language, daily medication, and more. ER staff is also be provided your emergency contact”s information and will be able to reach out themselves if they haven’t heard from your contacts already.

via Say hello to Iris, your modern day emergency alert – Iris App – Medium

I love apps like this that utilize the most seemingly mundane features of our constant carry smartphones to achieve good.

Our AI Assisted (Near) Future

jarvis

Courtbot was built with the city of Atlanta in partnership with the Atlanta Committee for Progress to simplify the process of resolving a traffic citation. After receiving a citation, people are often unsure of what to do next. Should they should appear in court, when should they appear, how much will the fine cost, or how can they contend the citation? The default is often to show up at the courthouse and wait in line for hours. Courbot allows the public to find out more information and pay their citations

Source: CourtBot · Code for America

Merianna and I were just talking about the implications of artificial intelligence and interactions with personal assistants such as my beloved Amy.

The conversation came about after we decided to “quickly” stop by a Verizon store and upgrade her phone (she went with the iPhone SE btw… tiny but impressive). We ended up waiting for 45 mins in a relatively sparse store before being helped with a process that took all of 5 minutes. With a 7 month old baby, that’s not a fun way to spend a lunch hour break.

The AI Assistant Talk

We were in a part of town that we don’t usually visit, so I opened up the Ozlo app on my phone and decided to see what it recommended for lunch. Ozlo is a “friendly AI sidekick” that, for now, recommends meals based on user preferences in a messaging format. It’s in a closed beta, but if you’re up for experimenting, it’s not steered me wrong over the last few weeks of travel and in-town meal spots. It suggested a place that neither one of us had ever heard of, and I was quite frankly skeptical. But with the wait and a grumpy baby, we decided to try it out. Ozlo didn’t disappoint. The place was tremendous and we both loved it and promised to return often. Thanks, Ozlo.

Over lunch, we discussed Ozlo and Amy, and how personal AI assistants were going to rapidly replace the tortured experience of having to do something like visit a cell provider store for a device upgrade (of course, we could have just gone to a Best Buy or ordered straight from Apple as I do for my own devices, but most people visit their cell provider’s storefront). I said that I couldn’t wait to message Amy and tell her to find the best price on the iPhone SE 64 gig Space Grey version, order it, have it delivered next day, and hook it up to my Verizon account. Or message Amy and ask her to take care of my traffic ticket with the bank account she has access to. These are menial tasks that can somewhat be accomplished with “human” powered services like TaskRabbit, Fancy Hands, or the new Scale API. However, I’d like for my assistant to be virtual in nature because I’m an only child and I’m not very good at trusting other people to get things done in the way I want them done (working on that one!). Plus, it “feels” weird for me to hire out something that I “don’t really have time to do” even if they are willing and more than ready to accept my money in order to do it.

Ideally, I can see these personal AI assistants interfacing with the human services like Fancy Hands when something requires an actual phone call or physical world interaction that AI simply can’t (yet) perform such as picking up dry cleaning.

I don’t see this type of work flow or production flow being something just for elites or geeks, either. Slowly but surely with innovations like Siri or Google Now or just voice assisted computing, a large swath of the population (in the U.S.) is becoming familiar and engaging with the training wheels of AI driven personal assistants. It’s not unimaginable to think that very soon, my Amy will be interacting with Merianna’s Amy to help us figure out a good place and time to meet for lunch (Google Calendar is already quasi doing this, though without the personal assistant portion). Once Amy or Alexa or Siri or Cortana or whatever personality Google Home’s device will have is able to tap into services like Amy or Scale, we’re going to see some very interesting innovations in “how we get things done.” If you have a mobile device (which most adults and growing number of young people do), you will have an AI assistant that helps you get very real things done in ways that you wouldn’t think possible now.

“Nah, this is just buzzword futurisms. I’ll never do that or have that kind of technology in my life. I don’t want it.” People said the same thing about buying groceries or couches or coffee on their phones in 2005. We said the same thing about having a mobile phone in 1995. We said the same thing about having a computer in our homes in 1985. We said the same thing about ever using a computer to do anything productive in 1975. We said the same thing about using a pocket calculator in 1965.

In the very near future of compatible API’s and interconnected services, I’ll be able to message this to my AI assistant (saving me hours):

“Amy, my client needs a new website. Get that set up for me on the agency Media Temple’s account as a new WordPress install and set up four email accounts with the following names. Also, go ahead and link the site to Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, and install Yoast to make sure the SEO is ok. I’ll send over some tags and content but pull the pictures you need from their existing account. They like having lots of white space on the site as well.”

That won’t put me out of a job, but it will make what I do even more specialized.

Whole sectors of jobs and service related positions will disappear while new jobs that we can’t think of yet will be created. If we look at the grand scheme of history, we’re just at the very beginning of the “computing revolution” or “internet revolution” and the keyboard / mouse / screen paradigm of interacting with the web and computers themselves are certainly going to change (soon, I hope).

 

Apple fires back against Spotify

“We find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers, and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service,” it reads. “Spotify’s app was again [i.e. after being resubmitted on June 10] rejected for attempting to circumvent in-app purchase rules, and not, as you claim, because Spotify was simply seeking to communicate with its customers.”

Source: Apple returns fire on Spotify, calling out ‘rumors and half-truths’ over App Store rejection | TechCrunch

Ouch.

Thoughts on Evernote’s price hike

Evernote

Evernote has been one of the leading note-taking services for some time, with clients for the Web and every major OS. The company recently announced sweeping changes to its “freemium” pricing strategy, which puts a big limit on the “free” tier and raises prices across the board for new and existing users.

Source: Evernote limits free tier to two devices, raises prices 40%

I’ve been an Evernote user since March 28, 2008 (got in before it launched in beta in June 2008) and immediately signed up for their Premium option when it opened up.

I was eager to support the app / service early on, because I saw the utility of being able to access my notes and create new ones from whatever device I happened to be on. That was already possible with the early iterations of services like Google Docs that had previously been Writely, but Evernote felt “new” in the sense that it was post-iPhone and looked ahead to a world where apps became the driving force of interaction, especially on mobile (after Steve Jobs relented on allowing apps to be installed and an app store for the iPhone).

Over the years, Evernote became more things to more people than just a note taking app. There were checklists, and document syncing, and PDF OCR, and business card storage. As a result, there were more and more calls for Evernote to get back to its roots and avoid bloat. I know I suffered through some of the “bloat” in 2011 and 2012 when Evernote seemed to really take off and started acquiring smaller and focused apps such as Penultimate, Skitch (still one of my favorites), Readable etc to round out their offerings. Then, there were the partnerships with the “offline” world such as Moleskine and Post-It Notes. We even saw an Evernote branded line of coffee mugs, backpacks, and lifestyle gear.

It was all too much.

I welcome this new period in Evernote’s story. I’m hoping they do “slim down” to some extent and even focus more on things like the current web version’s Google Drive integration (rather than being a document storage platform themselves). I’ve always thought of Evernote as more of an “Operations HQ” that ties into other apps I use like Trello or 1Writer on the iPad than a place to store all of my documents, pictures, and files.

I use Evernote everyday, and more so now that I’m trying to use iPad Pro as my main computer. It serves as my note repository, the place where I put PDF’s that I need for OCR, and a quasi-database of ideas for clients and research. It’s indespinsible to me, and I’m not sure how something “free” like OneNote or Google Keep could replicate that. I’m hopeful they continue to push forward on the excellent web version as well (and that doesn’t affect free members, which is a nice incentive for people to give it a try).

It’s painful when anything “goes up” in price. But the economic reality is that costs go up as we demand more from services and companies compete for skilled developers. Evernote did see the loss of a number of devs over the last few years, but I’m hopeful they’ll get their mojo back.

So, sign me up for another year of Premium.