Disruptive apps create a ‘new normal’ for consumers and businesses alike. They make life easier and often improve upon the traditional practices that came before it. We look at five new apps that are changing the way we shop, find a car park and do chores.
A disruptive app strives to challenge the status quo within an industry – so much so that the traditional way of doing business becomes obsolete. That’s easier said than done, and a lot harder than creating an app that follows market trends and consumer demand. So why are so many app startups aiming to innovate rather than regulate?
Well, as the late Steve Jobs succinctly put it: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
In the first part, I discovered apps that aim to change the way we live. For instance, grabbing a coffee, finding nearby friends and even monitoring our health. I also discovered that these app startups that are crazy enough to think they can change world, are the ones who do.
In this second part, I examine five more apps that disrupt the way we live our lives for the better.
What if live streaming, like those that run today on apps like Periscope or Meerkat, could be used to save lives? That’s the premise behind Witness – An app that does everything your phone can do to keep you safe in an emergency. With one touch, the app broadcast your location, audio and video to your loved ones and emergency contacts.
Winner of the TechCrunch 2015 Hackathon, Witness can be activated by launching the app and pressing the ‘Witness’ button. As soon as you activate it, it will call and text your emergency contacts.
In addition to alerting your friends and family, Witness will record your location, camera and microphone activity. It also streams it over data and Wi-Fi to your emergency contacts in real time. In the meantime, your screen fades to black so nobody can notice that you’re streaming what’s happening.
Changing the way we stay safe in an emergency
What makes Witness a game-changer in the live streaming app market is that rather than having the stream sent out to the public via social networks like Twitter, only designated contacts you’ve previously configured in the app’s settings are alerted to the incident via phone calls and text messages.
“Whatever emergency I have, I pretty much always have my phone and my wallet with me,” developer Marinos Bernitsas explains. That’s why he says it made sense to take advantage of the smartphone’s camera, microphone and GPS to build an app that could help keep people safe.
Operating as a ‘panic button’ of sorts for your iPhone, Witness empowers individuals and law enforcement agencies with a secure and efficient way to capture and deliver digital media in an emergency situation.
While searching for disruptive apps, I found that one of the most difficult industries to shake up was social networking. Companies like Facebook and Google are always striving, and spending, to remain at the forefront of how we connect to one another. With that being the case, how can a startup disrupt an industry where the most powerful are also the most innovative?
Well, when your app has a feature that Snapchat filed a patent for, it’s safe to say that you may have the attention of Silicon Valley. That’s what Membit has – a breakthrough mobile image sharing app that utilises a patented Human Positioning System (HPS) to share images.
Membit is a new way to share memories by letting users unlock past clips (‘membits’ ), captured at a specific location.
Changing the way we share memories
“Membit is destined to become the world’s way of memorialising and sharing moments that matter.” It’s a bold statement by Membit Founder Jay Van Buren. But when you consider the patented form of augmented reality the Membit has for geo-locative photo sharing, it’s a statement that he can say with confidence.
Membit photos know where they belong in the real world, and users can share Membits simply by leaving them in a particular place. Others can experience these images through a 3D interface or through their mobile devices at the Membit’s actual physical location. It’s a uniquely compelling way to experience and share photos.
Tinder-esque ‘swipe to filter’ interfaces (A.K.A. ‘Tinderfaces’) are in app vogue right now. ‘X app is the Tinder of Y’ has become the standard descriptive shorthand for this trend, named from the dating app Tinder which popularised making snap aesthetic judgements swipe style.
U.K. startup Mallzee is just one example of apps following in the gestural footsteps of Tinder by applying a Tinderface to high street shopping decisions.
The self-proclaimed ‘Tinder for Fashion’, Mallzee has captured the attention of fashion labels and investors alike. With a database that let’s you search over 2 million products from around 200 major brand retailers, the company has raised a nearly $6.7 million since being founded in 2013.
Source: Student Fashion
Changing the way we shop for clothes
Mallzee’s personalisation technology and retailer analytics appears to be the biggest draw here. The former creates what the startup describes as unique personalised style profiles that make finding ‘the perfect outfit’ quick and easy. This includes sending you alerts when items you have swiped-to-like are reduced in price.
For the retailers, Mallzee provides a data insight tool, which claims to provide ‘actionable real-time knowledge’ of how their products. For instance, how they are perceived and used across various consumer demographics, such as location, age and gender.
It’s quite the innovative shopping startup, but it’s Mallzee’s clever social twist that’s shaking up the personalised shopping experience for users. The app lets you share the item you intend to buy with friends. If the consensus is a thumbs-down, Mallzee will actually prohibit you from making a purchase — the buy button becomes disabled — helping to avoid any potential fashion faux pas. This feature could prove to be a viral hit with the young demographic. Or just a bit annoying. Time will tell.
Algorithms can’t tell you what to do tonight. You need a local who knows about all the events and can tell you what’ll actually be fun. That’s why DoStuff hire natives from cities across the United States to power recommendations in its new event discovery app.
The app is smartly designed to find awesome local events that are the real deal. While most other event aggregation apps force you through the chore of sifting out what’s good (I’m looking at you, That’s Melbourne!), DoStuff has real humans curating the events.
Changing the way we… well, do stuff!
So how does DoStuff stand out from the heavily saturated event discovery market? “There’s probably been 87,000 companies that have tried to tackle this,” DoStuff’s founder and CEO Scott Owens admits. “Where we’re different is that we’ve become a part of the scene in those communities by partnering with people.”
DoStuff understands that it doesn’t have to build an empire to create a disruptive app. The fact is that the companies perhaps best equipped data-wise to nail event recommendations just don’t care. EventBrite only makes money by selling tickets to events on its system, so Owens says “they’re fighting against themselves if they surface other things.”
Owens thinks similarly about Facebook. “It’s not in their DNA to be a part of a local community. They’re a platform.” Facebook knows where your friends are going, just not if where they’re going is any good.
Event discovery may be saturated, but that just shows there’s a clear need for it to be done well. DoStuff have realised that it’s people that are needed to do that.
After publishing the first part of this blog, I had a mate astutely say ‘Cool apps bro. Any Aussie ones?’. Considering Launchpad is Melbourne-based helping Australians develop their innovative app ideas, he had a good point.
As such, this app startup is disrupting a something that most Australians can relate to: finding a car park!
Enter Parkhound – An online marketplace that connects drivers looking for parking with local property owners who have spare parking spaces. A 2014 Australian Mobile and App Awards nominee, the app aims to make sure you won’t have to drive around aimlessly looking for a parking spot ever again.
Changing the way we find a car park
Parkhound works very similarly to Airbnb, but as a marketplace for empty parking spaces instead of rent accommodation. Drivers reserve a parking spot in advance and parking space owners get to make extra income on the side.
As a Melbourne motorist that heads to the city every morning, here’s how I feel about this app…
As indicated in the above meme, parking has been a major issue for all Australian motorists. Lack of investment in infrastructure meant that parking is either unavailable or is too expensive.
Instead of ignoring the issue, Parkhound has decided to challenge it head on. The solution? parking spaces need to be better utilised. Through collaborative consumption, here’s hoping that Parkhound can give the Australian parking industry the much needed shake-up it deserves.
Bonus App (Surprise!)
Apps like Tinder have gained popularity by shallowly focusing on physical attractiveness. It’s unfortunate, but also understandable. How is another way someone can find the perfect match with an app? Well, Oscar Mayer believes it has found the perfect equation for this and it all comes down to bacon.
Last month, the company released Sizzl, a dating app that allows lovestruck users a closed network of bacon lovers where they can scour for their ideal dates. This ‘totally real dating app’ allows people to “specify their bacon preferences in a customisable profile, upload photos and start swiping through profiles of local fellow bacon lovers, with the ability to message and meet up with other Sizzl users based on a mutual-matching system,” according to a company press release.
Changing the way bacon lovers find their soulmate
“In love, as it is in bacon, it’s important to be discerning when selecting your perfect match and to never settle for less than the best,” said Eric Dahmer, Oscar Mayer’s marketing director in a statement. “With the launch of Sizzl, we’re thrilled to give our true bacon lovers the chance to find each other and potentially meet their soulmates, in life and in bacon.”
This is a real app, and you really can attempt to meet your love match via a bacon-based matching service. It may not be disrupting the online dating industry anytime soon, but let’s be honest — it can’t be any worse than what’s already out there.
Are there any other disruptive (or bacon-centric) apps we should be checking out? We’d love to hear about them.