Anyone who has a smartphone knows and understands what an "app" is. Short for "application," and app is a small, typically free software program that has a specific purpose on your device. Whether the app is a game, a real-time map or a shopping list, apps have become commonplace in society. But what made this former "tech utility" into the go-to software that it is today? The answer lies in how the millions upon millions of mobile devices are in use today.
Few people could have guessed what a utility the early mobile telephone would become when it first hit the market. Initially considered a luxury, nice-to-have bit of technology reserved for those who had the money to own one, mobile phones were looked at as something that would only be available to the rich and egotistical among us. But like any technology, the materials and processes that made the mobile phone possible would become easier and thus cheaper, making these "cell phones" affordable and easier to adopt by the rest of the world.
Eventually, mobile technology combined wireless protocols with improvements in memory and touchscreens -- the smartphone (and later the tablet) was born. And with it, the floodgates opened for developers eager to apply computer software to mobile devices. The app is the modern incarnation of the mobile software program, only much smaller and more efficient than a typical software program, making it more mobile. It took up less space, less memory and less battery life. The end effect was that apps made mobile devices more useful to everyday human needs, ratcheting up the lowly cell phone to "pocket computer" status.
The next time someone asks you "what apps are you using?," consider the evolution of the early "bricks" that were cellular telephones, and you'll see how far mobile technology has come.
In my mind, the next frontier for the mobile market may have to wait for the next wave of new mobile devices to appear. I'm thinking faster, more memory and battery life and the advent of active sensors (think fingerprint scanners on steroids) that will enable more powerful apps that make these devices more interactive. Mark my words.
The mobile app was the next logical step in mobile tech evolution. When grandma is using them, you know they are "in," and here to stay...