What makes a great app?

There are over 500,000 apps on the iTunes Marketplace, the vast majority of which are garbage. So then, what separates the great apps from all the noise?

This probably won’t come as a shock to anyone, but I spend a lot of time on my iPhone.  Every morning, soon after my eyes open, my hand reaches for  my phone and our day begins. My morning routine is a Patrick Bateman-like regime of soaps, lotions and waiting around for tea to boil. I think this regime is my way of satisfying my inner German  that yearns for structure.

My phone is with me through every step of the drill,  as I flip between the NYTimes and Twitter to catch up on news, and occasionally chuckle to myself in between soaps and shaves. Somewhere between applying my exfoliation lotion and my Weetabix milk boiling, I fire off Tweet #1 for the day.

The NYTimes app became my first applove 2 years ago, and since then, every morning, no matter what corner of AT&T shitty network I am in,  the NYTimes app opens quick, with a page of depressing headlines ready to read in it’s beautiful Times New Roman typeface.

The Twitter app is another favorite.  If you are ever around me  and you give me even 30 seconds to check my phone, I’ll be knee-deep in the Twitter app  (watch out for that ‘Discovery’ tab, it is a rabbit-hole into which you will find a scary idiotocracy of a world ).  As an app, I love the navigational depth of Twitter. It keeps up, stays in sync, and flows smooth no matter how far I drill down into it. On the other hand, TweetDeck and HootSuite lurch around like they were running a three-legged race.

My iPhone is my dog, an iDog you could say, and it is with me most of the day. But my phone can do much more than Rex, it is my task manager (Remember-the-Milk), my scribe (Evernote), my music box (Spotify), my autistic friend (Shazaam) and my soapbox (Twitter), plus it rarely  ever shits.

I don’t think there is a magic formula for making a great app.  I know the apps I use the most are those that improve my day-to-day life, or that entertain me with new ideas and thoughts. When I unlock my phone, my thumb picks an icon to press, some apps are like magnets. They draw me in, engage me for a moment, and then have me coming back more. If I ever figure out how to bottle this up and engrain it into the apps we build, well then, that would be something very nice indeed.

About Bobby Gill

I am the creator of Bahndr, founder of New York based app development lab, Blue Label Labs and editor at Idea to Appster. I like crepes and I am fascinated by big data.