The Magic of “Single-Button” Apps

A story about building simple & amazing apps!


If you are one of those people who follow tech news, most probably, you notice how apps -mobile applications- are changing the dynamics of the tech industry, starting from startups, ending by high-school students learning iOS development.

There are many -so many- apps on app stores, each app is providing certain functionalities encapsulated in a group of user scenarios.

What about apps that focus on only “ONE” user scenario, “ONE” functionality triggered by “ONE” button?

Yes! “Single-Button” apps .. and here is the general user scenario:

  1. User opens your app.
  2. User taps a button.
  3. Magic happens!
Think about it for some time, an app that simply does a “ONE” core function!

Here are some examples about successful “Single-Button” apps:

The Shazam App

The famous app, that allows you to know info about any song plays around you, simply:

  1. User opens the app.
  2. User taps the “Shazam” button.
  3. Magic happens! -Magic here is getting the song info (song name, artist, lyrics, etc…).-

The Hungry Now App

It is an app that allows you to find -quickly!- the nearest favorite restaurants.

  1. User opens the app.
  2. User taps the “Hungry Now” button.
  3. Magic happens! -Magic here is getting the current location and finding the nearest favorite restaurants.-

“Single-Button” apps are magical to use & build too!

Because they are simple, as they focus on only “ONE” clear user scenario so it is easy to prototype, develop, market and improve your app:

1. Prototype Faster

As the scenario is clear, input & output are well-defined and user interface is simple, you are paving the way to build your prototype faster.

2. Develop Easier

The user interface of “Single-Button” apps is usually simple but the challenge is always in the “magic” (back-end logic) which could be a big pipeline, triggered by the “ONE” button. So the difficulty of your app depends on the complexity of your pipeline.

3. Market Earlier

“Single-Button” apps give you a great marketing opportunity because faster prototyping and easier development make you reach customers “earlier” so you can set product standards and be a market leader -specially if you are tackling a new problem-. Also selling a “ONE” magical functionality to a customer is much more impressive than selling an app that does “TEN” normal functionalities.

4. Improve Later

The “Single-Button” apps approach makes it easy to improve your product later because it focuses on “ONE” core functionality “first” so you visualize the whole scenario (from start/input to end/output) which gives you a better vision for what to improve or add next.


Bonus: Google’s new Material Design Language

Google recently introduced a new design language for its platforms and it stands on 9 principles, described here.

What’s interesting for me -specifically for this story-, principle no. 6:

User action is the essence of experience design. The primary actions are inflection points that transform the whole design. Their emphasis makes core functionality immediately apparent and provides waypoints for the user.

Did you notice the “ONE” circular floating button in each screen? ;)


What do you think about “Single-Button” apps? Do you know other remarkable app examples? Feel free to share your thoughts!☺

I also found this blog post, it’s about “Single-Button” apps but from another perspective, read it here.


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