For many busy people, mobile applications or apps have made life a lot easier. Apps have made it possible to use devices like smartphones and tablets to do things on the move, like Internet banking, updating social media accounts, getting news and weather in real time and accessing music.
From compiling grocery lists, to tracking health and fitness, apps have been developed for Apple's iOS and the Android operating systems. There is even a relationship app–the Romantimatic app, which reminds you to say nice things to your significant other.
Apple's release of the iPhone in 2007 was the catalyst for the development of applications. According to American technology analysts Gartner, 102 billion apps were downloaded globally in 2013 from the Apple and Google Play stores.
Leading ICT consultant Bevil Wooding has designed, developed, and implemented information and communications technology (ICT) solutions for governments, private sector organisations and NGOs around the world.
Rather than look at the number of apps that are being created, Wooding is more concerned about the ubiquity of mobile devices and whether they're being leveraged to improve productivity and add value to societies and empower communities. His big question is "how is the Caribbean positioning itself to take advantage of this new mobile revolution?"
In an e-mail interview, Wooding told the T&T Guardian the mobile revolution presented a tremendous opportunity for the development of Caribbean apps.
"Caribbean entrepreneurs, governments, businesses and organisations can lead the way by optimising their information and service delivery capacity to take advantage of the power in the hands of citizens and consumers.
"The mobile app market is booming, with businesses of all shapes and sizes eager to get their brand out in the form of an app. Never before has it been so easy for developers and content providers to reach such a large audience. By the same token, technology also now makes it easier for governments and businesses to reach their target audiences in interesting new ways," said Wooding.
Wooding also works with the BrightPath Foundation, a local non-profit organisation that conducts technology training targeted at youth, educators and seniors. There, Wooding has helped develop apps for the Android, iOS and Blackberry platforms.
One of the first apps released by BrightPath was Trini Lingo, a dictionary of sayings, proverbs and slang from T&T.
The app was so successful, the organisation got requests to create similar apps for Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda.
At Congress WBN, where Wooding is the chief knowledge officer, apps have been created for internal use.
As an organisation that operates in more than 90 countries, the apps make communication and dissemination of information much easier.
"We have built mobile apps to make it more convenient for our global membership to find out where we operate and how to access services. Apps for Congress WBN include a BSM School Finder App and a Chapter Locator app," Wooding said.
Congress WBN has also developed training material to each students how to build mobile apps. Additionally, it has worked with the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) to include the same material in the Cape Digital Media syllabus.
According to Wooding, BrightPath has also conducted numerous mobile app development workshops, targeting youth and young entrepreneurs. He said it is all part of a concerted effort to build regional capacity in mobile app development.
"A major benefit of this approach is the development of local apps that provide useful local services, while at the same time, creating new business opportunities."
Trinidad Weddings.com is the premier wedding planning Web site in T&T and the number one resource for finding wedding vendors in the country. Apple and Android users can download the Trinidad Weddings app for free.
Founder and managing director of Trinidadweddings.com, Simone Sant-Ghuran, said the app was developed to make T&T wedding information globally accessible, particularly for foreigners who want to make T&T their wedding destination.
The app provides features like vendor listings, an inspiration section where brides can view images, interaction with its Facebook page, up-to date articles and an Ask the Editor tab.
Apple and Android users can now also get the latest news from the Digital Guardian app, which they can download for free. The app is a replica of the actual newspaper with added features like hyperlinks or hot links, videos and photo slide shows. Users can also search the Guardian's online archives from 2009 to the present day.
Nicole Phillip-Greene developed T&T's first mobile app for moms called Mom's The Word. The app is an extension of the IT specialist's blog; whendidibecomeamom.com, and provides a forum for parents to share educational, craft, and cooking ideas as well as general parenting thoughts.
"It pulls together my writings, as well as shared Pinterest boards, Instagram and Twitter feeds. I also share local activities for parents in an event calendar, kids literature ideas and iOS/android app recommendations," Phillip-Greene said.
She said all mothers should have the app because it lists emergency contact info for every police, fire and public medical institution in T&T, as well as regional corporation and ODPM numbers. The information is available even if one is offline.
Phillip-Greene who developed the app from scratch on paper, and used some online services to build it up, said the app is not currently making any money as she believes it's a social responsibility effort on her part–her way of trying to support families and family values in society.
Locally, there are several popular apps like F1rst Media Ltd's app called F1rst, which was launched in February by brothers Nicolas and Kyle Maloney. They developed a Caribbean-specific app that would bridge the gap between businesses and customers.
In a telephone interview, Nicholas Maloney explained how the F1rst app works.
"Let's say you are going to a restaurant for the first time. Some of the things a customer would want to know are if the restaurant is good; the kind of food they serve; have any of their friends been there before; the payment methods accepted; and opening and closing times.
"Some might ask why not just use Google? Google can tell me where the restaurant is located but it cannot give me specific information like I just mentioned and that's where the app comes in," explained Maloney.
He said for businesses the F1rst app can become a communication portal.
"If I'm selling clothes and I get new stock, I can use F1rst to advertise my new stock by taking pictures and uploading them to my business profile on F1rst and costumers can see that information," said Maloney.
Businesses will know their customers' shopping habits and this can help them to put on special offers for regular costumers. Maloney said 30,000 have already downloaded the app in T&T. F1rst also has users in Jamaica and Barbados.
Asked whether the app has been profitable, Maloney did not give any figures but did indicate the profit is made through businesses who pay a monthly subscription to have F1rst promote their businesses and services.
APP BUILDING ON THE CHEAP
The T&T Guardian also wanted to find out how much it costs to build an app and how difficult or not it is to create it. Maloney said the cost will vary depending on the type of app one is building and the functions one wants it to perform.
Wired868, a satirical online newspaper, had its app developed by photographer and T&T Guardian columnist using a free online app builder service. The app, which is was developed for the Android platform, enables users to access content from the Wired868 website. Lyndersay said the app serves a simple purpose: To tap an existing data feed and present it using an app interface.
"It's easier for people looking for information than using more sophisticated tools and offers Wired868 a branding opportunity on the device desktop," Lyndersay said.
The only money Lyndersay spent to create the app, was the US$25 developer fee.
Some free local apps for Android available on the Google Play Store
�2Trini Cars For Sale
�2Birdie Pirdie (Trini Tap2Fly)
�2My Trini Lime 2.0
�2Trini Restaurant Bill Calc
�2 Trinidad News & Radio
�2Trinidad & Tobago Cinema
�2Trinidad & Tobago Yellow Pages
�2Eat Ah Doubles Vendor Directory
�2STAG Trinidad Carnival 2014
�2Trinidad & Tobago Ferry
�2Radio 90.5FM Bollywood Music
�2Trinidad Tobago Radio
�2Flappy Yard Fowl (TriniEdition)
�2TnT halal guide
�2Hott Foot! Events
�2Trinidad & Tobago
�2Trinidad & Tobago Radio
�23D map Trinidad and Tobago
�2The Golden Boy
�2TNT Movie Guide
�2Trinidad and Tobago by Triposo
�2Trinidad Tobago GPS Map
�2Trinidad and Tobago Map
�2Trinidad & Tobago Offline Map
�2NAVFone Trinidad and Tobago
�2Psalm Project International
�2Wine :: Trinidad
�2Uk Trinidad Roti Shop Locator
�2Trinidad and Tobago flag clock
�2Household MD & Importer
�2TnT Halal Guide app
�2Trinidad Pocket Directory
�2Woods Hit Radio The Mix
�2Tic Tac Dough: Mario vs Capo
�2Martin's Piano Bar
�2Water Services TT (Beta)
�2D Coal Pot
�2Trinidad Offline Map Guide
�2Trinidad and Tobago GPS
�2Radial - Redefine Radio
�2HTC Droid 4G
�2Christian Trinity Symbol LWP
�2Farmacia Masarone Biella
�23D D20 Dice LWP
�2Waterfall Live Wallpaper