No, I’m not talking about apps that help you kill someone, something or even stink bugs. Instead, I’m discussing the apps that convince people that they need to get a smartphone. Let’s face it, if you’re just need your cell phone to be, well, a phone, then you don’t need a smartphone. But if the idea of having a portable computer in your pocket appeals to you, then you’re a candidate for a smartphone.
Smartphones can be expensive, to buy and to maintain a data plan, so you shouldn’t get a smartphone unless you have a good reason to get one. That reason is called a killer app.
Way back in ancient times, people didn’t see any need to own a computer. Then the killer app came along, the spreadsheet, and people started to understand how useful a computer could be. The spreadsheet is widely regarded as the killer app for the computer but there is no one app that is widely regarded as the killer app for smartphones.
The reason there is no single killer app for smartphones is because the growth of the app market in Apple’s App Store was so rapid and diverse, the quality and quantity of apps made a smartphone called the iPhone appealing. Smartphones running Google’s Android operating system added to the variety of choices of phones and apps. Suddenly people started comparing smartphones and apps with each other, showing off the increased usefulness of their investments.
For an app to be a smartphone killer app it must need a smartphone with a data plan. An app that can work on an iPod Touch using Wi-Fi shouldn’t be a reason to get a smartphone. The exception, of course, is that if you need the app to work in places you don’t normally have Wi-Fi, such as a car or while you’re out shopping.
Killer App Examples
A killer app can be as simple as email. If you need to access your email when you’re out and about, then a smartphone is ideal for you. Perhaps you like to check in on Faceook when you’re away from home. Or maybe you see some severe storm clouds on the horizon and want to check your Weather Channel app for live satellite pictures of your area.
Shopping apps can be helpful when you’re at a store trying to decide between two products. You can use a smartphone app like Amazon or Google Shopper to check reviews and compare prices at other stores.
Similarly, there are many apps like Flight Update that will give you information about the expected time a plane will arrive at an airport, which can be handy if you need to go to the airport but won’t be near a computer before you head there.
My killer app was a basic one, Google Maps that comes pre-installed on most smartphones. The Google Maps app has a very cool feature called “Show Traffic”. I knew about this nifty trick from owning an iPod Touch but I couldn’t access the app when I was away from Wi-Fi before I owned a smartphone.
One day when I was driving my girls home from school, I came across slow traffic on the highway. If I had a smartphone then, I could have had my daughter check Google Maps and use Show Traffic to see how bad the traffic jam was. With Show Traffic activated the roads are colored red, green and yellow, according to the speed of the traffic flow. One glance at the map and we would have known to get off at the next exit. But we didn’t have a smartphone in the car or any other way to access that information so we stayed on the highway, figuring using the back roads would take much longer. Instead, what was normally a 20 minute trip took over two hours. Soon after that I got my iPhone.
Combining some of these apps shows how several apps might work together to be “killer”. Let’s say you are on your way to the airport to leave on a short trip. You are caught in a traffic jam that has slowed the traffic to a halt. You pull out your phone and check Google Maps. You see that the jam lasts for miles but the alternate route is clear so you should get off at the next exit, just two-tenths of a mile away. Checking your weather app, you see that an isolated storm is nearby which may delay flights. You check Flight Update and see, sure enough, your flight is delayed an hour, giving you plenty of time to make it to the airport even with the traffic jam. You find out the gate where your flight is scheduled to depart from and you check your boarding pass which you have loaded onto your smart phone. Your stress is significantly reduced because you know you will make it to the airport in time and can speed through to your gate when you get there.
With the phenomenal growth of smartphone and app sales worldwide, more people are jumping on the smartphone bandwagon every day. So what killer app pushed you or will push you over the edge to get a smartphone? If you have a smartphone, which killer app convinced you that you needed a smartphone? If you’re debating getting one, which app seems to be the most appealing? Please comment below to let us know about your killer app!