What Apps Say About Us

Apps apps apps

Tech reviewer and friend Ray Wong recently posted on X, ‘Time to purge apps again,’ which got me thinking: How many apps am I actually using? What do they say about me? and what’s gonna come next?

You see, before we get into that, the sheer size of the app economy has, in many ways, conditioned us to stop typing website URLs into browsers and just download whatever the latest apps have launched.

For context, there are 4 million apps in the App Store, and the same is probably true of the Google Play Store. Apparently, the average person has 80 apps (yes, 80!) on their iPhone or Android smartphone.

And yet honestly, I mostly likely use around 5.

1) X
2) WeChat (China business)
3) WhatsApp
4) Instagram
5) Bumble (Single!)

Surprise, surprise, a lot of communication makes sense despite the near-death of voice calling. Phones are, after all, still phones, i.e. communication devices.

A reflection of us

Everyone’s most used apps will likely be different, though broadly, the most popular apps will be similar. What this means to me, at least, is that at our core, humans all have similar needs: something along the lines of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth.

This is no different from the way we behaved before the browser-based internet and before that, in the real world offline. But the difference now is that this stuff is always on with a smartphone in your pocket. And that’s the dangerous bit.

Like many people, I’ve tried deleting these apps, muting, and turning my phone face down. But we always come back, and companies work their hardest to ensure we do.

Unclear what’s next

What is resonating with people now is the need to move past this situation, whether that’s with new voice-based hardware like Humane’s AI Pin. The problem is, we’re not there yet.

I think we’re going through a phase right now in which we’ve benefitted enormously from the app economy. Phones have become physical extensions of ourselves, connecting to a dynamic and now AI-infused Internet.

As we've outlined, the downside is also clear, so we’re in this stasis period until new forms of hardware emerge. One thing’s for sure: humans adapt; it’s our key ability, and this is reassuring in the face of exploding screen time.

What are you doing to limit your screen time? or do you think this isn’t really a problem at all? And what does the post app world look like?

Feel free to comment.

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