Digital expert predicts big growth for more sophisticated apps

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SNAPCHAT, Vine and Candy Crush Saga earned coveted spots on smartphones in 2013, making them among the most downloaded apps of the year.

There are more than a million apps on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, the dominant marketplaces for apps, which see billions of downloads each year.

Last year, the most downloaded apps were new takes on communication, gaming and entertainment, according to mobile app experts.

A Yorkshire digital expert predicts that the big growth areas in 2014 will fall into two major camps – contextual and real-time applications and the increasing sophistication of existing favourites.

Kristal Ireland, strategy director at Leeds-based Enjoy Digital, said that contextual real-time applications give users the instant “plugged-in” gratification they have come to expect from their mobiles for everyday situations.

Examples can be found in apps which build in layers of user experience and entertainment in film and TV, she said.

This is already under way with the popular film and TV check-in app Get Glue, where users are encouraged to enter a socially enabled dialogue about what they are watching, added Ms Ireland.

She said that context and real- time lend themselves to big technological developments, citing the augmented reality app to help enrich the waiting time for the new Alton Towers funfair ride The Smiler.

Ms Ireland expects the 2013 trend for adding a more sophisticated functionality layer to existing favourites to continue.

She cited Facetune as an example. This allows users to give their selfie a quick makeover before it is added to Facebook. “Who doesn’t want to look like the cover of a magazine?”

Another example is Flipagram, which creates video slide shows from mobile photo album set to a soundtrack of your choice to post on to wider social networks.

Ms Ireland said: “I think in 2014 we are hopefully moving beyond previous years trends of simply looking at the cheapest, fastest ways to monetise apps.

“I hope we see brands realise the secret to unlocking their bigger potential is in pushing the technology to hold the user’s attention and ultimately ensuring their app remains used and not forgotten or deleted by an ever harder to impress user base.

“An end to gimmick-based applications? Yes please!”

With Snapchat, users can send photos and videos that disappear shortly after they are viewed.

Vine is a video sharing app and Candy Crush Saga is a puzzle video game.