App Longevity from a Millennial’s Point of View

I’m from the generation that only received a cell phone so that my parents could pick me up from the mall or movies with the least amount of trouble. Less than 10 years later my generation now has a mobile dependency so severe a good portion of my day is impacted by my smartphone – from alarm clock to bus schedules to keeping up with friends across the country. That’s the beauty of smartphones and their wide range of apps – they can enhance your life by interacting with your interests.

But at what point does quantity surpass quality? In 2011, an average of 701 apps were launched daily, but what makes them stick around? What can hold a millennial’s interest before they need to check into Whole Foods, because if you didn’t know, the fifth check-in gets you a free slice of pizza. Here are some tips:

1. Don’t bug me. When it comes to notifications, there’s a fine line between being helpful and incredibly annoying. Social apps that are letting me know about my posts being liked or friends interacting with me – that I find helpful. If the main purpose of the app is to interact with friends, of course I want to know what’s happening. But if my apps are constantly trying to get my attention, and even worse won’t let me turn the notifications off, they get on the “To Be Deleted List” very quickly.

2. Share Cautiously. Maybe I have a few guilty pleasure apps that I don’t necessarily want the world to know I’m constantly using (it’s not my fault Panda Jam is addicting). When an app doesn’t clarify when it is sharing data, and worse, if it does so without asking first – it’s pretty frustrating. No one likes to see a ton of spam on his or her Facebook newsfeed, and I don’t want to add to the insanity by letting my friends see how many baby pandas I rescued at 9pm on a Friday night.

3. Please Work. One of my favorite apps – 8tracks – I constantly use to listen to music. I understand that when I’m underground on a train, it’s going to have trouble loading music. But when the app is constantly freezing or crashing, it gets pretty aggravating. Since I do work with mobile apps I start to wonder, do they even test their product before their releases? I mean, the app only has 4 main functions and when the “play music” function keeps failing, I feel like it should have spent a bit more time in the workshop.

4. Minimal Ads. I get it – free apps need to make money, and a few ads placed throughout offers a great solution. But I think we all share the same feelings towards Facebook’s new ad explosion – it’s annoying. I don’t mind clicking through a few ads in order to use an app – or having a small banner at the top of the screen letting me know I have the option to meet singles in my area. But when every transition is filled with a full-page ad or worse, a video, it gets old fast. Please be smart about ads, mobile gods, because they can ruin the experience quickly.

I’m hoping right about now you’re thinking, “Yes, someone gets it!” but I’m assuming there is also a chance you might be thinking, “Man, this generation is whiney.” I’ll just go with a mix of both – right & whiney. The smartphone world seems to be advancing so rapidly that by the time I get this post finished, we will be on the iPhone 7. With this progression comes the swift growth of the technology of apps, making it incredibly important that an app has the originality to stick around longer than a few weeks. (cough, draw something, cough). We’ve come a long way from texting in our book bag in high school and tweeting behind a textbook in college. We are taking our smartphones with us wherever we go, and I truly believe the above four criticisms are the biggest downfalls of apps.  Now if you’ll excuse me, my Uber cab is here, thanks to yet another incredibly helpful smartphone application that I’m hoping will stick around for a few more months.

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