Mobile apps are here to stay. Recent OZCodes research found that 20,000 apps per day are downloaded across the nation, and Flurry discovered that time spent on apps increased by 69% in 2016. Thousands of new apps are released into the world every day, and competition to rank in the Play Store is fierce. Android, along with iOS, leads the way in app development and is the top platform for the use of these programs.
Despite the fierce competition, there are several groundbreaking new apps which have shown a lot of promise and therefore attracted plenty of attention. Many of the apps below were premiered at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, while their makers have announced others since then. These are some of our top picks for unique and exciting apps, available for free download in 2017.
Screens is such a simple app; you won't realize how much you needed it until you have it. This neat little program makes use of the split-screen feature, and it links together any two applications with a home screen shortcut. To launch both of those apps at once, just hit the shortcut.
The app is still in its early stages, so expect some issues between non-compatible programs in these first days and weeks. However, it has the potential to be hugely popular, as it can halve the time spent completing tasks in applications.
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Keep an eye on this app though the future as well - it is likely that in the future, you will be able to drag and drop from one screen to the other, allowing for quick and easy web searches, photo sharing, file linking and more through your mobile device.
Remember those online surveys that gave you cash for your answers, but took hours to complete? Well, Google's new twist on the theme is fast, fun and delivers on its rewards! Google Opinion Rewards is a survey app that is essential and easy to use - you answer questions on a broad range of topics including news opinions, Google feature testing and on the spot polls. In return, you build up credit which can be spent in the Play store.
If you spend a lot of time using paid apps, this is a must. Cut the cost dramatically by earning rewards, and you do not even need to pay for the app in the first place. While it's not the most exciting of applications, it is certainly one of the more practical and useful.
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Everyone can get involved, with questions that suit any demographic, and the rewards do add up quickly. Recently released, the app is expected to grow and develop over the coming months and could be one of the surprise successes of 2017.
MoodCast is certainly a unique app, and it is expected to be popular among the younger generations who already use social media to express thoughts and emotions. MoodCast Diary is similar to other journal apps, except that the program uses statistical analysis to check out your entries and predict your future moods. The app tracks things like feelings, behaviors and thoughts, and over time these are processed to give stats and percentages of a possible repetition of the user's actions or moods. It requires the regular and honest input of data over time to work, and it can even integrate with your social media accounts if you grant permission. The app promises security for all data, but it is not for those who are unwilling to share personal information.
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As for how accurate the mood prediction software is - only time will tell! The app launched just a fortnight ago, and downloads are just starting to pick up pace. Once users have spent time inputting their emotions and activities, the accuracy of predictions made will become clearer.
Quartz is a fresh and intelligent new approach to news delivery, based on simple chat programs such as WhatsApp or Messenger. Stories are delivered to a message feed, and users can respond conversationally by selecting responses. The stories themselves are links to full articles, and the content can be modified and personalized for the reader. Breaking news alerts come in like text messages, and the app can be muted at any point.
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Over time, Quartz will learn what you like to read and which news is of no interest to you. If something about a headline summary strikes you as interesting, you can ask for more information and receive a longer update or an answer to a direct question. 'Chat sessions' are a few minutes each, making this a perfect app for catching up with the news during a break. It launched earlier this month and is already running close to 50,000 downloads.
It might just be the future of home automation: Stringify is an exciting and innovative new Android app which has disrupted IFTTT's market and caused the smart home tech makers to bring this new system on board themselves. Stringify is new to Android and still in the testing phase, but its power is growing fast. Through some wise partnership deals with Steam and Twitch, plus Foobot, Smappee - and of course, IFTTT themselves - Stringify has been able to get off the ground quickly and start connecting devices together.
Through a series of simple codes and commands, the app can interact with objects around you and create a home Internet of Things network, with everything from lights and speakers to kitchen appliances accessible from one home screen. Unlike similar apps, it has necessary learning capabilities through the programming of command 'strings' or chains.
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For those who own smart devices already, the app is going to come in useful right away. As the year progresses and the smart home tech we saw at CES 2017 is launched to the market, this cool control app is likely to see a boom in its downloads.