Best Apps on App Store: Digiteum Favourite

Find out What Best Apps IT Professionals Recommend to Have and Why

Recently, we scrolled through the Apple choice in 2016 to introduce our own top among the Best Apps on Store and gave our expert insight on what put these apps to the pedestal.

Now it’s time to get personal. We’ve asked Digiteum founders, executives, engineers and designers to name their favourite apps and speak about the technologies behind them.

Image Credit: UnSplash

Katherine Lazarevich about Spotify and Slack

Digiteum Co-founder and Managing Partner

Katherine Lazarevich

My choice — best music app. First, I go for Spotify as one of the apps that I use quite frequently. Even though I am a big fan of Apple, I choose this one over Apple Music, and I have reasons for that.

Why this app?

What makes one of the best music apps shine is outstanding usability and variety of options and features such as building albums and playlists, easy switching to radio, and smart searching in the impressive library of songs and artists. A true gem, however, is Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature that regularly provides you with a fresh playlist of the music that you may like. The algorithm that creates these recommendations is incredible, and every week I do manage to discover something enjoyable.

Image Credit: iTunes

Technology behind it

As one of the best music apps, Spotify is hyper personalized, and the technology that allows this level of granularity is truly inventive, however, familiar.

For Discover Weekly, in particular, Spotify uses natural language processing and applies AI-based analysis of the data from more than 2 bln users’ playlists together with the data and history from each user. The app relies on deep learning to recognise patterns and collaborative filtering to compile unique playlists that almost always appear a spot-on.

Such a technologically infused approach once again illustrates how AI can be used for the creation of personalised content. Together with other trends, such as IoT and the use of big data, we will observe more and more apps applying these opportunities to do their job better.

My choice — best messaging app for business. Another app worth mentioning is Slack, which is more than an app to me.

Image Credit: Slack

Why this app?

This is a platform that improves team collaboration. And efficient collaboration together with high productivity matter, I think. Besides, Slack is one of few B2B apps that actually deserves this attention for its useful features. What is more, Slack mobile app is as robust as the web version.

Technology behind it

It’s not about any technology, but more about the mixture of a worthy business idea, pixel-perfect design and great quality.

What lets Slack beat Skype and other systems is well-implemented user experience. It seems that the owners knew how important it is to create a great app and built it with care from the very start. For example, Slack app allows you to login via the link sent to your email instead of making you type a complex password on your smartphone.

As one of the best apps for communication, Slack minds notifications. And here comes the great focus on automation: Slack automatically disables email notifications when you activate mobile push notifications and thus releases your mailbox from fouling-up.

Automation is not the only shiny side of the app. It can be well-adjusted and personalized too. For example, it allows users to fix settings for each device individually and turn off notifications for the evening. Not to mention the quality of app performance and recently added real-time calls that totally disarm Skype (No slows or glitches! Eat it, Skype!).

Michael Grebennikov about Pillow

Digiteum Co-founder and Managing Partner

Michael Grebennikov

My choice — best sleep tracking app. Pillow — a smart sleep cycle tracker and alarm clock that allows to monitor, analyse and improve sleeping habits and overall wellness.

Why this app

Actually, I was searching for something similar to Jawbone UP suitable for iWatch. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Pillow is the only one in the list that tracks various sleep cycles, from deep and REM to light sleep and even naps (or maybe you know a better one, then let me know in the comments section).

Moreover, it collects comprehensive data from device sensors, records tossing and turning, sounds and further builds reports on “the quality of sleep.” As one of the best sleep tracking apps, it syncs with the other data on Apple’s Health app and merges collected information to create a more complex image of your health condition. Not to mention smart alarms that release you from the burning desire to hide the phone under the pillow and get back to sleep.

Image Credit: Geek Wire

Technology behind it

First of all, the functionality of the best sleep tracking app is based on data collection through sensitive sensors on iWatch. For iPhone or iPad versions they offer to put your device under your pillow. Though you wouldn’t want to keep iPad, even a Mini one, there to check your sleep, cause it could ruin your sleep in the first place. The core of the app is in data processing and analysis that rely on advanced algorithms. And a great bonus is in its sync with other health and wellness apps for better personalization and coaching.

Thus, Pillow is a good example of how healthcare apps have been winning the market and become mainstream, for a while already. In future, we will observe other tracking apps and devices getting smaller and moving into our smartphone and watch. Apps will synchronize and communicate with each other more, get used to connecting to big databases, and create profound analyses and reports, IoT will keep on stepping in and shaping the environment.

Christina Zaprudskaya about AirBnB

Marketing Director

Christina Zaprudskaya

My choice — best travel app. I’d go for AirBnB — probably the best Uber-like app that connects accommodation providers with travellers trying to find a place to rent in almost every country of the world.

Why this app?

It is worldwide, intuitive, and reliable at the same time. Design of the app is simple, but elegant and visual, so I never get stuck with trying to understand how it works. Not to mention the features: instant messaging with the hosts lets me communicate fast and saves my time.

And it’s incredibly smart. Not only does it remember my previous travels and allows me to repeat my positive experiences at a click, but also it adds Experiences to my trips. When you literally have no time to explore and search for attractions, AirBnB stands for your personal guide.

Image Credit: iTunes

Technology behind it

As a Marketing Director, I would point out not the technology behind the platform (leave it for the engineers), but about the opportunities that an Uber-like app like this brings. As one of the best travel apps, AirBnB is a great example of how businesses, services, small and big companies, as well as individual entrepreneurs can connect with their clients and increase their sales and volume using only one platform, fairly and cost-efficiently. In a way, this is also a technology — the technology to sell online.

Viktor Lazarevich about Shazam and Uber

CTO

My choice — best music app, the other one. Katherine mentioned Spotify as the best music app. I will choose another music app, for its functionality is based on totally different technologies.

I will go for Shazam as a revolutionary audio and today also lexical and visual recognition platform, mostly known as the app that can name “that track from the movie we were watching yesterday.”

Why this app?

It is indeed revolutionary and adds on to the kit of the technologies that today manage recognition and tracking, perfectly. In the case of Shazam, it once was the first to introduce the infant recognition technology literally to anyone who has a smartphone. Today even your watch can do that with Shazam.

Image Credit: iTunes

Technology behind it

In simple words, the technology of this app is based on audio recognition: sound detection and recording, analysis, comparing with a massive audio database and further matching with a found abstract. Behind this process stands a complex algorithm, revealed to the public by the app’s creator years ago.

Today the technology of the application also includes text and visual recognition. In a way, it completely transforms Shazam from a great music app to a multipurpose detection and recognition system. The opportunities of one of the best music apps, to my mind, are enormous, since it puts automation into everyone’s pocket (or bag, depending on where one prefers to keep his or her smartphone).

My choice — best Uber-like app. Surprisingly, Uber. Christina has already touched upon the topic of service-to-customer solutions and named AirBnB as an Uber-like app. In this case, I think Uber itself deserves special attention.

Video Credit: Uber on YouTube

Why this app?

First of all, it’s a revolutionary app that has totally changed the way we move around the cities worldwide. Neither do you have to rely on cash, nor to bother with various taxi services and contacts. It is particularly convenient when you deal with it while travelling: today you use only one standard platform with intuitive familiar interface everywhere.

Not to mention the quality of the service you get. Uber today is an independent self-moderating system where both of the sides — customers and drivers — are focused on getting and providing a high level of service. Because scoring matters and will determine the way search and match will work for the ones who need a ride and the ones who give these rides.

Technology behind it

Apart from being a full-cycle independent service, the phenomenon of Uber lies in 2 basic technologies: search-and-match and global market adaptation.

First one is based on the smart algorithms Uber uses to search and match customers with drivers in real time.The app performs it extremely fast and efficiently, despite the huge number of factors the system has to take into consideration: distance, time, ratings.

The other one fully relies on the globalization of the service. In fact, transportation and entrepreneurship are highly regulated in each country. However, Uber is known for a true global reach with more than 190 countries availing this service to the public. The system itself adjusts to the regulations in each country individually and provides a uniformed experience regardless of the location, thus being centered on a simple focus “where to.”

All in all, Uber, as one of the best apps ever built, created a totally new, Uber-like way of introducing services and thus changed IT industry. In particular, it unlocked more opportunities for alternative solutions IT provides across various industries today .

Pavel Tsikhanavets about Google Photos

UX/UI Designer

Pavel Tsikhanavets

My choice — best photo app. My personal favourite will be Google Photos, because it’s just awesome.

Why this app?

It sure beats Apple Photos that to my mind is stuck somewhere in 2010. Google Plus, on the contrary, is getting more and more intuitive, not to mention design features that hugely improved user experience.

Microinteractions — zoom, upload, scrolls and hides — are armed with micro animations that smoothen interaction and lead you along the way making sure you don’t get lost tapping inappropriate icons.

Not to mention mind-blowing recognition opportunities. As one of the best photo apps out there, Google Photos tears itself from traditional geo tracking for smart image recognition for faces, places, details, logos, sensitive content, text and language, etc.

So assume you have a Golden Retriever named Lucky, and he (not ‘it,’ because everyone just loves Lucky) appears on every second picture. With Google Photos you can compile an album with all the pictures with Lucky simply by searching for a “dog” keyword.

Image CreditL iTunes

Technology behind it

Google Photos is stuffed with technologies that let it stay the best among other photo storage apps. It is empowered by Cloud Vision API to perform complex image recognition based on machine learning and artificial intelligence. It allows for deep visual content understanding: face and object recognition and categorization, inappropriate content filtration, emotion detection, text recognition and further language determination.

Now think of the possibilities such image analysis brings in security, usability and visual data processing, and you will understand why Google Photos is a king among the best photo apps.

Aleksey Orlov about Booking.com and Strava

Tech Lead, Senior Software Architect

Aleksey Orlov

My choice — best hotel app. I would go for an oldie — the alternative to AirBnB that has great history — Booking.com.

Why this app?

It’s a time-proven app with plenty of features that make the life of a traveller much simpler. I would point out Booking Messages and a new offset, Booking Now, that adds on and complements the app significantly. In particular, Booking Messages allows users communicate with service providers on the fly and make mobile experience excellent. Booking Now, in its turn, makes last-minute deals available in one tap.

Also the app allows storing all booking information for offline use, which is important when you are abroad or connection is weak. I also love interactive map in this best hotel app — it shows all offers in a given location with user’s ratings and prices, which makes choosing the right offer much easier. User’s feedback, which is given without fear or favor, is handy in the most cases.

Image Credit: iTunes

Technology behind it

What makes Booking Messages valuable is an easy chat-like interface with multilingual auto-translation and full integration with Booking.com website and other apps. On one hand, this is what keeps the service global and mainstream, on the other hand — it hooks more non-English speaking customers with language support on top of clear and easy-to-use design and functionality.

As for Booking Now, this is an independent app rather than a feature for Booking.com. However, if you unbrick the system, you will see that this is actually a streamline Uber-like version of Booking.com. Similar functionality is location-based: it collects and processes minimum requirements from an end-user to get a range of appropriate last-minute accommodation deals as if one needs to book a car. Fast and simple!

My choice — best sports app. I would keep myself fit with sport activities motivated by results in Strava.

Image Credit: iTunes

Why this app?

I like sport, and it’s important for me to track my activities. There are many sports and fitness apps that monitor your daily activity, but Strava offers some cool features.

You can think of it not as just of a stand-alone sport app. Instead, Strava is a sports social network with followers, likes (called ‘kudos’), activity feed and comments. The use of this app enriches each training with data from external devices like power meter, heart rate monitor, cadence monitor and generates detailed report after training is finished. Moreover, Strava generates dedicated reports for different sports. Not to mention the options to set up aims, such as average cycling power for 10 minutes or running pace on 10 kilometers distance and show your progress in graphs accordingly.

Also, Strava offers one cool gamification feature called ‘Strava segment’, which is a user-defined interval of GPS track. Performance on the given interval is then measured automatically among everyone who followed it, the results are gathered in a table, forcing sportsmen to compete with each other for taking KOM (King of Mountain) status.

Technology behind it

Strava is being actively developed now, each update contains more and more new features. Currently, it is a great combination of social network, gamification and solid mathematical core that handles raw device’s data in real-time.

Thank you, guys, for sharing your opinions. In fact, there’re so many apps, too many. It’s no wonder you may get lost trying to find the One. This is why getting the insights from real tech, business and design gurus is a real value. Because you just know what you are talking about!

Here’s the Top among the Best Apps in Store 2016 according to Digiteum experts.

What is your favourite app? Please, comment or start a discussion with Digiteum team about the great apps out there. And don’t hesitate to share if you came across the one that you also find awesome.
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