There’s a Category For That App

by Net Future Institute on October 9, 2012

With continually improving technology and an arsenal of a million or so apps, smartphones can be made to perform almost any task.

Phones can do so much these days, it can be challenging to categorize the functions.

Having to create mobile apps buckets during the research of my latest book The Smartphone Handbook (A Quick and Easy Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Mobile Phone), we came up with 10 distinct categories under which we estimate most apps can fall.

Some of these may help you with better organizing some cluttered mobile screens if you use them as folders. You likely already created some of your own, but we thought we’d share at least one way to categorize mobile apps — by function.

Communicating. The messaging capabilities of a smartphone. Outside of voice, these can include functions such as group chat, translating text to voice, using word references or even using a phone as a walkie-talkie.

Deals. These comprise ways to save money. These can include the myriad of daily deals, coupons and discounts that can be used while grocery shopping.

Finders. Unlike simple search, these are used to quickly find things based on location. These can be garage sales, apartments for rent, cheap gas or local hotels and restaurants. This is the largest category, since location is one of the most useful smartphone capabilities.

Health. Apps in this category provide medical information at your fingertips, including a number of apps ranging from iTriage to WebMD. The grouping also includes fitness features, such as running trackers and weight-loss guides.

Navigation. The art of getting to places. This could be by car, such as Google Navigation or MapQuest for iPhone, or GPS Lite to track your walking route.

Purchasing. As it sounds, using the phone to buy things. Not using NFC or other forms of mobile payments, but rather using the phone to eaily buy practical things like movie tickets.

Radio. Using a smartphone as a radio, as in live streaming from iHeart Radio or Pandora. Also can involve using the phone as a police scanner and to identify songs being played on the radio.

Scanning. This involves dealing with barcodes. Yes, people are scanning in stores, comparing prices of nearby stores and getting the store to price match — or they simply buy elsewhere. The phone cameras have become so much better that scanning finally works a lot better than in past years. And that’s just for traditional barcodes found on most products. QR codes also fall into this category, whether highly used or not.

Travel. Managing going somewhere. Whether using flight selection, flight tracking or any of the many airline apps, this category includes anything you can use while on the go or away, such as a currency converter.

Utilities. Taking advantage of things your phone can do. This category involves tapping into some of the inner capabilities of the phone — like using it as a compass, a flashlight, level, magnifying glass or speedometer.

These are 10 categories we identified that seemed to encompass at least the major categories under which apps can be categorized. I’d be interested in hearing what your categories are, and if any of them match these.



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