These days, it seems everyone has a smartphone, but that doesn't mean everyone's downloading apps.
Each month, 65.5% of U.S. smartphone owners refrain from downloading any new apps, a report this week by Internet analytics firm ComScore said. That number is surprisingly low, but there are a few reasons that explain why it is.
“People only have so much storage space on their phones, so they really have to be selective about which apps they download,” said Adam Lella, a marketing insights analyst for ComScore, explaining that users only add apps that will truly benefit them.
Another reason for lack of downloads is that smartphone owners tend to spend 42% of their usage time on their favorite app and 17% of their time on their second-ranked app, meaning they get most of the function they need from their top apps, Lella said.
Meanwhile, Quartz speculates that many users don't download apps because of how difficult it can be to find apps worth adding. In their app stores, Apple and Google list the top and most popular apps, but these lists are based on download numbers, not the quality of the apps, so it's tough to gauge how useful an app might be.
To help discover new apps, here's a list of five you might not know about that I recommend:
- Waze: Google Maps is great for looking up the address for a business, but it's not the best when it comes to navigating. I give that distinction to Waze, an Israeli crowdsourcing startup acquired by Google last year. When you ask Waze for directions, it will pull information from other users -- such as how fast they're driving or any accidents or construction that they've reported -- to calculate and give you the fastest route available. Free for Apple iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
- Duolingo: If you're looking to learn a second language or practice one you don't use often, Duolingo is a must-add. The beautifully designed app offers free lessons for English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Dutch. Free for Apple iOS and Android.
- Songza: This Google-owned app is an Internet radio service, but unlike Pandora, which uses algorithms to guess what music you want to hear, Songza's playlists are curated by human music experts. Simply tell the app what you're looking for -- such as an energy boost with peppy indie pop from female singers -- and it'll serve it right up. Free for Apple iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
- Venmo: This app was designed to make it easy for friends to pay one another. You connect it to your credit card or bank account, add your friends, then pay or charge them whatever is owed. You can keep your transactions private, or if you're feeling social, you can share them on a feed visible to your friends with a description of the payment, such as "for the T-shirt," "rent" or an emoji for beer or a taxicab. The actual dollar amount, though, isn't shared with anyone else. Free for Apple iOS and Android.
- Oyster: Oyster is to books what Netflix is to movies. This $9.95 per month subscription service offers smartphone and tablet users access to 500,000 e-books from several of the top publishers as well as indie authors. The beautifully-designed app also helps readers discover new books with spotlight lists that recommend books from certain authors, for a particular season or from a specific genre. Free for Apple iOS and Android.