App Insights

Apps that are totally nailing it

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Let’s face it, there are a lot of apps out there. How do you separate the golden-app wheat from the shovel-ware chaff? You ask an expert, that’s how. We probed some of Calvium’s finest minds to find out which apps are floating their boats right now.

Navigating the news

Tom Melamed, our client services director, likes to be informed and involved, which is why he loves iOS-only news app Quartz: “I like it because of its informal style, and its innovative chat based interface. It’s very succinct and to the point, but gives you multiple options to dig deeper if you want to. I also like it because when you’re all caught up, it gives you a nice little animated gif. It would be nicer if it wasn’t quite so US-focused, but it’s a great example of how the interface from one style of apps – chat – has been cleverly used to create a new style of news apps. One day, more apps will feel like conversations and less like filling in a form. Of course, by then, what it means to be an ‘app’ may have changed…“

Our next selection, by mobile developer Ikbal Kaya, is one of the most popular apps in the world, with well over a billion downloads – Google Maps. It’s the sheer depth and versatility of the app that appeals to Ikbal: “I can use it for any kind of directions and can quickly explore what’s around me, reading reviews of nearby places and writing my own.” Ikbal likes the fact that it’s not just your average sat-nav either: “Not only does the location-based timeline show me where I’ve been, but the fact that you can switch to a detailed view showing photos and other useful information makes it easier to find where I’m going.”

Sun and sandwiches

In contrast to the globe-straddling Google, Charlie Harman, our marketing and operations manager, is going local with Bristol restaurants app, Wriggle: “Maybe it’s just because using it involves eating delicious treats – but I’m also a fan of the general ethos of the app too. It’s a Bristol startup that supports local, independent businesses. Their reward scheme is also a stroke of marketing genius, as I know I’m forever lobbying my friends, colleagues and strangers on Twitter to download the app and use my code so we can both get £3 credit. (It’s KNRXRM by the way…)”

“In addition to that, the deals are fantastic. Two bagels, two beers and chips from Bagel Boy for £12? Can’t argue with that… “

Never let it be said that it is only the British who are obsessed with the weather… Spanish-born iOS developer Pablo Carrillo has chosen Yahoo Weather as his favourite app, but it’s as much about the app’s design as it’s accuracy: “What I like is that it gives you a range of information in a very clear way with beautiful animations. The transitions and layout are tailored per device, but they’re subtle enough that they don’t get in your way. For me, this app is what the iOS weather app should have been from the beginning – simple, focused and beautiful.”

Touching tunes

Technical director Ben Clayton has picked NanoStudio for its ability to satisfy his songwriting cravings while out and about: “It’s a fully-featured recording studio in your pocket. It’s got a synthesiser, a drum machine, audio recorder and a really great sequencer. It’s been around four or five years now but I’ve still not seen anything close in terms of usability. I’ve used it for recordings on-the-go (I once recorded the baseline of a song I was doing with a friend while pushing a pram to the zoo), sketching out ideas and just playing around. It’s awesome!“

Sticking with the musical theme, our final selection highlights how mobile apps can extend the functionality of non-mobile products. Logic Remote on the iPad is an all-time favourite for software developer Tony Briscoe: “I’ve been using Logic Pro X – Apple’s digital-audio workstation for the Mac – for a number of years on a range of projects, from film sound design and live music performances, to music composition. One of the most useful features of the tool is the ability to sync it with the free companion app, Logic Remote, on the iPad. This gives the user multi-touch control of the mixers, faders and instruments.”

So there you have it. We’ll let Tony and Ben get back to making sweet music and send Charlie out for some bagels (unless Pablo says it’s going to rain). In the meantime, if you want more expert app insights, follow Calvium on Twitter and LinkedIn.