The evolving needs of the urban dweller have expanded the concept of basic needs to include the smartphone, at least in parenthesis, with mobile technology tearing up the virtual world with its lightning-speed reach. The post-PC era has acclaimed the microcomputer’s growing presence, populated by applications; today, an unmistakable part of our lives, highlighted recently by the massive role that social media played in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. There is an estimate of 9 billion app download to be increased by the end of 2015. So I decided to zero in on some apps made right here in our country, India and created a buzz all over the world.
This app was developed by Alphonso Labs a creation of Stanford graduates Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari.
‘Launch Pad’, a course for aspiring entrepreneurs that challenged students to create a product in the course of 11 weeks, is where the idea for the app originated, stemming from self-proclaimed news junkie Akshay Kothari’s dislike of how he had to view several different apps to get the news he wanted to read. He started wondering whether they could collate content from different news sites and – using RSS feeds – create a clean, functional and aesthetic-looking app. “The first week of class, we decided we’re going to do something for our iPads, and we released our app in six weeks,” Kothari, co-founder, and CEO of Alphonso Labs, said. “It’s been a truly exciting ride, and we hope it stays like that.”
The app got the ‘biggest stamp of approval’ it could have unexpectedly when Steve Jobs mentioned it onstage at Apple’s developers conference in the year of its development, in 2010 and early last year, Linkedin acquired Pulse for a whopping $90 million, post-which it has become Linkedin Pulse, a news app that highlights how ‘news and information can make every professional moment’ count. Although this initially upset everyone – especially due to the removal social plugins – the customizable feed allows you to pick from hundreds of sources including Linkedin Influencers and check out what’s trending from professionals across the world. In the age of information explosion and mobile technology, this is an app that’s managed to truly grow into its name, and keep track of what really takes in the market.
2. 360 Panorama
Multiple still shots which are later stitched together are a thing of the past because real-time is what 360 Panorama is all about. Thanks to an advanced vision-based system that analyses images as they are pushed through, 360-degree panoramic photography is a reality thanks to Indian-based Occipital. All you have to do is tap the screen and pan your device in any direction, and watch as your panorama is built with every constituent incoming frame as it gets processed. Once you’ve turned a tight circle, you can instantly save your panorama or share via email, Twitter, or Facebook.
Some useful tips to make your panorama the prettiest it can include making as tight of a circle as possible, in one pass, and choosing good light. If you are stuck with low light – move, pause, move, pause; because ain’t nobody got time to stitch.
Developed by Girish Ramdas and Vijayakumar Radhakrishnan, Magzter is the “Youtube for Reading” as Ramdas describes it to be.
Digital newstands have become a norm today, with information accessible at the tips of your perpetually-tapping fingers and Magzter is spearheading the digital movement, having revolutionised the reading experience. Initially a Chennai-based venture launched in June 2011, it is today headquartered in New York with a business model that makes it easy for publishers to distribute digital editions of their magazines globally with no upfront cost. Over 1500+ leading publishers upload their content on Magzter and the stand offers you a staggering 3,500+ magazines from 50 countries in electronic form to choose from. Publication houses have thus been able to shift from print to digital with one click, making Magzter a path-breaking app providing a world-class reading experience, on an international level. Readers can take their time and browse, preview and purchase magazines and books of their choice with a single touch and read them on upto five of their chosen smart devices.
Today, they also have offices in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Cape Town, Hamburg, Paris and Singapore, with a whopping 25% of magazines on Apple’s newsstand today are populated by Magzter. Magzter operates with 80 employees, made possible by the high level of automation. An idea that gained momentum has snowballed into what is today, the world’s largest and fastest-growing digital magazine, bookstore and newstand.
Zomato, a brainchild of Deepinder Goyal, CEO and Founder of Zomato Media Pvt Ltd.
Zomato was originally called Foodiebay. A post-graduate from IIT-Delhi, Goyal was joined by his juniors from college, Pankaj Chaddah and Gunjan Patidar, both of which serve Zomato as the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Technology Officer respectively.
Zomato actually saw rather modest beginnings though its massive status today would be quick to fool you otherwise. It has to be said that their release of the app to coincide with the wave of smartphones in the country was impeccable – not to mention hitting our weakness with the onslaught of menus. While working with Bain and Company, Goyal put all his office menu cards on the internet, which ultimately gave him the idea for Foodiebay. And once his juniors joined him, they quickly set up database.
Foodiebay was launched in July 2008, and by 2009, they covered over 2,000 restaurants in three major cities: Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. In 2011, the app was launched for iOS, Windows, Android and Blackberry devices with the objective of providing detailed information about the restaurants: the prices, what they serve, the delivery services and its timings. They also succeeded in occasionally making us cry with the sheer extent of their database.
In 2012, they expanded to all major cities across India and their first overseas location in Dubai, followed by Sri Lanka, Qatar, the United Kingdom and South Africa. It was then that they decided to change their name, as they wanted to avoid legal hassles with eBay (as Foodiebay had “Ebay” in it). Soon, it was changed to Zomato.
Today, Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant search and discovery service, providing in-depth information for ~300,000 restaurants across 19 countries. Zomato is present in over 100 cities across India, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Lebanon, UAE, Turkey, New Zealand, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, South Africa, the Philippines, Portugal, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Qatar; a constant resource that is every rumbling stomach’s reflexive refuge.
Foursquare was co-developed by Naveen Selvadurai and Dennis Crowley. Born in Chennai, Naveen went on to graduate from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and worked with huge companies like Lucent, Sony, Nokia and Sun Microsystems before developing Foursquare.
Foursquare is a location-based app that lets users interact with their environment. With over 45 million registered users, the app uses the phone’s GPS system to track the locations and has bestowed the status of ‘mayor’ on anyone who has frequented a particular spot often enough, an inside joke (which is coveted with an intense seriousness) amongst Foursquare users. The app is not restricted to a particular country either, and serves Worldwide. It is available in English, German, French, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Japanese and Turkish.
With the advent of instant messengers on phones like Whatsapp, Wechat, and Viber, text messaging is definitely an anomaly that requires specific mention today. Developed through a venture between SoftBank Corp. and New Delhi-based Bharti Enterprises Pvt. Ltd, the Hike app was launched in December 2012 within two months of which the company raced to #1 on the Android Play Store. By Feb 2014, the app had hit the 15M user mark and 5 months later, it had reached the 20 million users – a phenomenon success many attributes to the privacy the app offers, along with other features that cater specifically – culturally and infrastructure-wise – to a local demographic. Overtaking brands the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook, Hike has really made an impact in the industry, clocking in over 20 Million users and is now adding over 300K users per day.
Kavin Bharti Mittal, Head of Product and Strategy, says, “We’ve made a tremendous amount of improvement to the product over the last year especially for our users on 2G networks and low-end smartphones which now accounts for a majority of the user base. It’s also become quite clear to us that in India, one size doesn’t fit all given the diverse nature of the market. We’ve built unique features, keeping in mind the diverse market. The uptake of our new features and innovations prove that the market wants more than what has trickled down from the West.”
Newshunt was founded by Virendra Gupta and later acquired by Banglore- based Verse Innovation
A winner of numerous awards, Newshunt is probably the fastest growing app in India today.It recognizes that a lot of people like reading in their regional languages, and today offers 87 papers in 11 languages for your leisurely perusal, including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and English. In addition to that, it also provides one with e-books in over 50 languages. With over 40 million downloads and a billion views to its name, Newshunt is definitely the next big thing on the Indian app market.