The problem with too many apps

A few years ago I was having dinner at Wahaca (as I love to do) and discovered a card on the table which advertised their app, allowing me to pay for my dinner from my phone and just walk out the door. As someone who can get pretty impatient whilst waiting for the bill to arrive, and then waiting even longer for a waiter to turn up with a card machine, I was impressed. 

The quick pay app launched in 2014 and has since inspired many restaurants to follow suit. Pizza Express, Wagamama, Bill’s and Five Guys all have apps which allow you to dine and dash. There are also a number of generic quick pay apps as well as numerous apps from restaurants which allow you to locate your nearest, view the menu and book a table. 

I was impressed with an app again last year when I was able to download an app in a car park and pay for my parking. PaybyPhone allowed me to quickly pick which car park I was in, pay for the minimum time, check how much time I had left and top up if needed. But not every car park uses PaybyPhone. Some use RingGo, some use Your Parking Space, others use Parkmobile Parking. 

Not only do we now have an app for absolutely everything, but there are also multiple apps that serve the same purpose. Even with the number of memory smartphones now have, that’s a lot of apps to have filling up your phone. It’s not even just restaurants and parking. There are multiple apps for ordering takeaway, banking, managing travel and loyalty cards before we’ve even touched upon music, film and TV. 

As someone who likes to keep their collection of apps fairly streamlined, this glut of apps isn’t convenient. Now when I see a restaurant has its own app to pay, I’m a whole lot less likely to download it and instead pay for my dinner the old fashioned way. Do we just accept this new culture of app abundance (forcing people to repeatedly download and uninstall apps for temporary use) or is there anything we can do to fix it?

Probably not. 

I understand why we have so many apps. Why would a company use a generic app that other companies use when they can build their own that’s branded? It’s another way to connect with customers and make them come visit you and not their competitor. 

Here’s my suggestion. How about companies use their websites instead? For example, a simple QR code displayed on a restaurant table could direct diners to a web page allowing them to see what that table has ordered and guide them through paying (and yes, I realise I’m advocating the use of QR codes here!). Instead of downloading multiple apps, you can simply save the website as a tile on your screen, saving memory on your phone. Would this be the solution?

No. Unfortunately, I see this trend of apps being a must-have for every company continuing to grow. 

Are there benefits of us having so many apps? Maybe not as many pros as there are cons, but it certainly keeps competition strong to innovate digitally. 

In the end, all these apps are making my life just a little bit easier, so should I really be complaining?

Probably not.

How many duplicate apps do you have filling up your phone? How do you suggest we solve the problem or do you think it’s a problem at all? Let me know in the comments!

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