Below is an article our team wrote for Panache Jamaica Magazine on our picks for the top 10 apps of 2016.
2016 was quite an app-filled year. From the introduction of new apps to the vast improvement of existing ones, mobiles app have truly taken form. Of all the apps we used this past year, the digitally led team at Trend Media Group managed to compile a list of the 10 most impressive applications – whether it be solely for the purposes of socializing, news/ information sources, utility or relevant to education.
1.Loop News– Loop is the Caribbean’s #1 news app with well over 900,000 downloads. This year, the Loop app instituted some updates, which included: customized notifications for each reader, a more stable version of the app that crashes less, and access to the app’s content directly from Facebook, which made the user experience much easier. A complete bonus to the app is that we can access it free, i.e. without using our mobile data or needing to access Wi-Fi!
2.Stay Alert– The Ministry of National Security debuted a useful app earlier this year and should be recognized for their efforts in not only keeping citizens safe, but informed. The Android app comes with Jamaica’s full database of laws for users to peruse for quick fact-checking. In addition, the app’s iReport feature allows users to anonymously upload suspicious activity via phone, video or text message. Finally, the app comes with a panic button which uses GPS to contact the nearest police station in the case of an emergency.
3.Facebook– Can we talk about the constantly innovative team at Facebook? The app underwent so many changes this year alone, to talk about them all we would need an entire article solely dedicated to that! However, to give the summary- the app updates included: Facebook reactions, changes to the News feed algorithm allowing users to see more of what interests them, rather than what brands want them to see, and the most noteworthy (in our humble opinion) Live streaming. Facebook Live was introduced to general Facebook users back in April and has been a great tool for marketers so far and will be interesting to see its growth in 2017.
4.Instagram– While we are on the topic of Facebook, let’s just talk about Instagram- as it seems Facebook gave all its owned-apps a facelift in 2016. With all the updates to Instagram this year, we believe it has positioned itself as much more than a photo/ video sharing platform. Here’s a timeline of its most noteworthy updates: In February, the app started allowing users to log in with multiple accounts; in April the new app icon and design were released…admittedly this took some getting used to but we vaguely remember what the old app icon and design looked like. In August the platform released “Stories”, a feature with some very blatant Snapchat-like qualities, which quickly caught on and has become very popular. In November the app announced Instagram LIVE! Instagram will definitely be one to watch in 2017.
5.Snapchat-Facebook and Instagram really gave Snapchat some competition this year, with many thinking that Snapchat would be dead by December upon the introduction of Instagram Stories in August. But alas, Snapchat refuses to go down without a fight. The app has had its fair share of updates this year and we think Snapchat has matured quite nicely this year into a post- pubescence powerhouse. The new additions to the app allow it to be more ad-friendly with sponsored geo-filters, new discovery features, and snap ads. In case these improved features did not prove themselves in the early parts of 2016- the US elections in November gave them credibility with reports of both presidential candidates using Snap ads on Election Day.
6.Facebook Messenger– Yes, Facebook has emancipated its messenger…in some ways. The Facebook messenger app is still very much tied to the main Facebook platform, but we love that you can easily chat without getting distracted by your news feed (don’t you just hate that?). From a business standpoint, one thing we really loved about messenger this year was the introduction of messenger bots- our little virtual assistant that responds to messages on our behalf. How convenient!
7.WhatsApp – Now a staple on most phones, Whatsapp also underwent updates this year that makes our communications that much easier. In addition to the already popular voice note feature, WhatsApp started allowing users to voice call, and later this year they added video calling capabilities.
8.My Digicel– When it comes to utility apps, convenience is of utmost importance and that is not lost on the My Digicel app. The app allows you to check your account balance, activate data plans, send credit to friends and family. Postpaid customers now have the convenience of paying their phone bills directly from the app. Best of all, you aren’t charged credit, or data to access the app! Did we already state how convenient this is?
9. My JPS Mobile– Electricity…we all use it, and we all know how essential it is to our daily lives, but somehow some of us just can’t remember to pay those bills, or find it very inconvenient to stand in long lines making bill payments. JPS realized this frustration and moved to texting and emailing bills to their customers, while also facilitating online bill payments. This year the energy company took it further and introduced a mobile app (thank you!). The convenience that this app offers is why we love it so much- we can view our electricity bill, pay our bills, and even see where a power outage is. Nicely done JPS!
10.Duo lingo– Apps have been helping us to do a lot this year- connect with friends, pay bills, and keep up on current affairs- so it was only natural that we would turn to an app to learn a new language. Duo lingo is a language learning app that has the capability of teaching over 10 languages including, French, Spanish, and Russian, all while playing a game. In addition to the theoretic concepts of grasping a language, the app allows you to listen to and also practice speaking the language.
AND WE’LL SHARE TWO MORE…
11.Scotiabank– The newly redesigned app stands out from the other local banking apps with a one-click design making banking even easier. Customers can complete common tasks like bill payments and transferring funds in less steps, complete with easy onboarding instructions. The app also offers a new calendar of transactions for financial planning right in the palm of your hands. The app gets you in an out of the ‘bank’ quickly so you can get on with what matters most.
12.Netflix– The newly redesigned app stands out from the other local banking apps with a one-click design making banking even easier. Customers can complete common tasks like bill payments and transferring funds in less steps, complete with easy onboarding instructions. The app also offers a new calendar of transactions for financial planning right in the palm of your hands. The app gets you in an out of the ‘bank’ quickly so you can get on with what matters most.
2016 was a great year for apps, which is tied to the increase in demand and usage of mobile phones. We are excited to see the updates to these apps on our list as well as the new ones that will come in 2017. Merry Christmas and a very ‘Appy’ New Year from Trend Media!