“Tonight is Family Night”, my wife reminded me last night as I sat down to relax after the activities of a busy day. “What are we doing?” I asked a little concerned. I was not sure my back was up to another evening of Laser Tag, or Go Cart racing. “How about a Movie?” she says. “I could handle that, is there anything good playing?” “I’ll check” Then she picked up her iPhone and began working. I watched, trying to keep up with what was going on as she ran through some of her favorite apps. Mostly it was a blur of fingers across the screen. Within minutes she picked a film that we both agreed on and thought the kids would approve of. I was just getting up to check with them when she said “I got it”. Sure we could have just yelled, but what good would that do? My daughter was looking at something on the computer with her ears firmly plugged by her iPod ear buds. My son was involved in an epoch battle on his x-box with head phones on. Who would have heard? Before I knew what she was doing my wife sent a text, “Anyone wanting to go to the movie, be ready in 20 min.” The girl was the first to respond, “K”. A minute later the boy responded, “What’s the movie?” He takes his x-box seriously. Twenty minutes later we were all in the car and headed for the theater.
In the time it took me to find my glasses and grab a jacket my wife had already bought the tickets and was waiting for me at the door. I asked, “How did you do that?” She said, “It’s all in the apps.”
In the old days when a computer was a big beige box connected to a monitor on the desktop I remember wandering through computer stores looking at all the software. I knew that the magic box was useless without an application program to run on it. Once I got it connected to the internet, I did most of my software shopping from home. Browsing web sites, looking for the programs that would make my machine come to life. In the modern world a computer can be a small hand held device that somehow doubles as a phone, or a note pad, or even a big box attached to a monitor on a desktop. The hardware has always been less important than the software. After all the hardware is just a delivery system. Application programs are what really make things happen. As the evolution of hardware has allowed us to shrink these devices small enough to fit in a pocket, the evolution of software has condensed application programs into Apps.
An App is a simple one button access key into any one of about a million different directions. First you have to decide where you want to go. With all the possibilities, that is not as easy as you might think. Next you load the app into your device. This part is actually easier than you might think. That’s it, just push the button and you are there. Broadcast your innermost thoughts to the world on Twitter. See what your friends are up to on Facebook. Kill a few minutes playing your favorite game. Catch the latest news, weather, and sports, whatever. You’ve all seen the ads, there’s an App for that. Believe it! If you can’t find the app you’re looking for, then the world is waiting for you to create it. The greatest challenge for app developers today is not creating the app, it’s generating the idea. Not that there is any shortage of ideas, the app market is booming all over the place.
A few years ago Apple a new operating system called iOS. They were looking for a simple easy to use navigation system that would allow the user to access some basic programs using just fingers on a small touch screen. App buttons seemed like a logical way to link them up. It wasn’t long before other smart phones running on Google’s operating system started using apps also. These little finger buttons are just the right size and shape to fit on a pocket sized computer. Apple and Android apps are built using different formats but from a user perspective they are nearly identical. Most popular developers offer their apps in both formats in order to reach customers on both devices.