1 The App 100: The world’s greatest apps

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1 The App 100: The world’s greatest apps

There’s an app for everything these days

But with millions of apps at our fingertips, it can be harder than ever to find the best of the best

For the past several years, Business Insider has run The App 100, a handpicked collection of the 100 best mobile apps in the world. This year, Tech Insider is carrying the torch

In this list you’ll find popular juggernauts, like Facebook and Snapchat, but you’ll also discover hidden gems that haven’t hit the top of the App Store’s charts or garnered mainstream appeal yet. Every app has been chosen by Tech Insider because it serves a real purpose, whether making life easier, better, or just more fun

Social networking is one of the largest categories of apps on this list — a mark of how much they’re transforming human interactions around the world. On-demand apps are a new category that has exploded in popularity, thanks largely to the worldwide prevalence of Uber

We’ve also got apps for: productivity, news and reading, health and education, entertainment and music, photography, travel, money, shopping and food, and of course, games. Keep an eye out for the. “best of” badge in each category for the one app that stands out from the rest

TI_Graphics_App 100_category heds_Social Networking

Facebook Messenger is becoming the one app to rule them all

Facebook Messenger_star

Facebook’s decision to break Messenger out of its main app in 2014 turned out to be a very smart move. Messenger now has 700 million users worldwide, and it’s become much more than a way to send text messages to friends

Messenger can now send money, make video and phone calls over the internet, and send stickers and animated GIFs with ease. When Facebook’s virtual assistant “M” becomes available outside of San Francisco, Messenger will be able to do anything from order a pair of shoes to call your cable company for you

If the future is one app that does everything, Messenger is poised to be a big winner

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android, web

Facebook is the most popular app of all time

Facebook

Facebook is the most downloaded app of all time, according to the app analytic company App Annie. It’s used by over 1 billion people

There’s also a good chance that, out of all the apps on your phone, you use Facebook’s the most. The News Feed is the most coveted avenue for publishers, and many news organizations are part of Facebook’s Instant Articles program, so some of their stories are hosted directly inside the Facebook app

Video in the Facebook app has also taken off, and the largest social network in the world sees the News Feed consisting mostly of video content within two years. That would explain why Facebook is so interested in virtual reality — it snapped up the VR company Oculus for $2 billion. 360 degree video in the News Feed could be just the beginning of what’s to come

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android, web

Instagram is the top social network for sharing photos

Search Instagram

If you’re not addicted to checking your Instagram feed at least five times a day, you probably know a few people who are

Instagram created not only a huge user base — with 400 million active each month — but also an entire industry of mobile photographers whom brands hire to travel the world and post on their behalf

It’s changed the way restaurants advertise (When have millions of filtered images of delicious food ever been so accessible?), how live events are reported, and how creative people share their work with the world

Even after its acquisition by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, Instagram has proven that it’s focused on what’s gotten it this far: the community

“Calling Instagram a photo-sharing app is like calling a newspaper a letter-sharing book, or a Mozart grand era symphony a series of notes,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom recently told The Guardian. “Instagram is less about the medium and more about the network

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android, web

WhatsApp is the most popular way to talk with people around the world

WhatsApp

If you don’t understand why Facebook would pay a staggering $19 billion to buy WhatsApp, then you probably don’t use the app

WhatsApp is used by over 900 million people around the world, and a whopping 30 billion messages have been sent through its servers. Its popularity took off because it uses an internet connection to send messages instead of traditional cellular networks, so messages don’t count against the allotment from your wireless carrier

Another reason WhatsApp spread quickly around the world is that it populates your friends list with phone numbers already on your phone — you can find a contact that works without having to look up a separate email address or username

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android

WeChat is huge in China

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If you live outside of China, it’s unlikely that you use — or perhaps have even heard of – WeChat. But with more than 600 million users, WeChat is one of the largest messaging apps in the world. And to call it a messaging app is actually an undersell because it does so much more

You can use WeChat to do just about anything, including play games, send money to people, make video calls, hail a taxi, order food, buy movie tickets, read the news, book a doctor appointment, and more

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Snapchat is the future of social media

Snapchat

With more than 100 million daily active users and a primary audience of 18 to 24-year-olds, Snapchat is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon

The app’s premise (and Snapchat is just an app — there is no web interface) is the idea of ephemeral messaging: once a message, or “snap,” is viewed, it disappears forever

Its 25-year-old CEO Evan Spiegel has a portrait of Steve Jobs hanging in his office, and he has a grand vision for his multi-billion dollar startup. In essence, “It’s all about talking with pictures and expressing yourself in the moment

But Snapchat is also about consuming media. The app’s Discover section features interactive content from a range of publishers, including BuzzFeed, Mashable, CNN, People, and Vice. The goal seems to be keeping Snapchat’s users in the app as long as possible — and it’s working

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android

Twitter is where news breaks

twitter

Whether you use it or not, there’s no denying that Twitter has changed the way news is spread and reported. When the riots in Ferguson, Missouri began, people on the ground shared firsthand accounts of what was happening there on Twitter. And when events like the recent presidential primary debates take place, Twitter lights up with commentary, jokes, GIFs, and quick analysis

Twitter has seen its fair share of turmoil recently — Jack Dorsey, one of the founders, is back as CEO, and the company recently laid off 8% of its employees — but it’s still the first place many people turn to to see what’s going on

We’ll see if Moments, the company’s latest endeavor into curating the news and making the service appeal to a wider audience, will catch on

Price: Free
Available on: iOSAndroid

Vine is pure entertainment

vine app

Vine, the six-second video app owned by Twitter, has established itself with creators and entertainers because it easily allows them to create six-second videos and share them with followers

While it’s not as popular as Instagram or Snapchat, Vine has developed a vibrant, unique community that spawns countless internet memes. (Remember Smack Cam?) Vine stars have created a new class of celebrity with their mission set on creating Hollywood 2.0

Price: Free
Available on: iOSAndroid

Periscope is revolutionizing live broadcasts

Periscope app

What Twitter did for making micro-status updates, Periscope could do for live video broadcasts. That may explain why Twitter bought the app and its small team in February before it even launched

If you’ve never used Periscope before, here’s how it works: download the app to your phone, log in, and start a live video stream with your phone’s camera. Your friends on Periscope and Twitter will be notified to tune in, and viewers can interact with broadcasts by commenting and leaving virtual hearts

You can choose to save your broadcast for people to view on Periscope later, but every video shared on the service expires after 24 hours

Periscope was born out of its CEO’s frustration with the media’s coverage of the Gezi protests in Turkey, and as it grows in popularity, people around the world are discovering how powerful it can be for sharing a unique perspective of what’s happening

Reporter Paul Ronzheimer recently used Periscope to document his journey with a group of Syrian refugees from Greece to Germany. “In Germany we have been having a big discussion about the intensity of media coverage of this story. But on Periscope, everybody could see it was live,” he told The Guardian. “It happened. No one was cutting it, no one was putting a two- or three-minute piece together after we filmed it. And for Germans, it was really good to understand the problems the refugees have been facing

Price: Free
Available on: iOSAndroid

Yik Yak is hot on college campuses

Yik Yak

Yik Yak, a social network that’s mainly used by college students, is what you get when you combine the community-driven aspect of Reddit with complete anonymity

Yik Yak is location centric, so if you leave your college’s town you’re effectively out of what the service calls the “herd.” But the app will let you “set your herd” so you can have a peek into the hive mind of your alma mater’s student body after you graduate

There is no identity attached to messages on Yik Yak, which opens the floodgates for all kinds of flavorful talk (hookup requests are a dime a dozen). Users can up-vote messages and comments they like and even post photos, as long as no one’s personally identifiable information is shared. Regardless of the ban on sharing personal information, the service has still forced schools to deal with cyber bullying like never before

“Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps,” Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” told The New York Times earlier this year. “It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android

Kik makes messaging easy and (potentially) anonymous

Screen Shot 2015 10 19 at 2.10.06 PM

It’s difficult to mention Yik Yak without bringing in Kik, the hugely popular app that, unlike other messaging apps, doesn’t require a phone number. Because you only need a username and an internet connection to use Kik, the app has become the main way for people to chat over internet without exchanging personal information. (It rarely takes more than a few minutes on Yik Yak before you see a question like, “What’s your kik?”)

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Price: Free
Available on: iOSAndroid

Pinterest is all about helping you find inspiration

Pinterest iPad

Pinterest describes itself as “a visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas.” Users can “pin” images to the service and share them in collections, or “boards,” that other users can follow

The social network has 100 million monthly active users, the majority of which are women

According to The Washington Post, 38 million boards on Pinterest are dedicated to wedding planning alone. Women are flocking in droves to plan their dream weddings on Pinterest — even if they haven’t met their spouses yet

Price: Free
Available on: iOSAndroid

Tinder is matchmaking in the 21st century

Tinder app

Let’s face it: For better or for worse, no app has revolutionized dating like Tinder. Its simple swipe-right-to-like, swipe-left-to-dislike interface has exposed the darker sides of hookup culture, but has also led to marriages

Price: Free
Available on: iOSAndroid

Tumblr is social blogging

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Tumblr isn’t just a place to blog — it’s also a place to consume content from the more than 250 million other blogs on its platform

The mobile app is good for posting text, photos, videos, and links on the go, and it of course lets you view all of the blogs you follow

Tumblr has faced some criticism in recent months for changes its made —a controversial change to its dashboard design earlier was met with pushback — but the company’s colorful community appears to be staying on Tumblr

Price: Free
Available on: iOSAndroid

Timehop will make you feel nostalgic

Timehop app

The premise of Timehop is simple: connect your social media accounts, and the app shows you what you shared online a year ago, two years ago, and even further back

It’s like getting a window into your past life on social media every day

Earlier this year, Timehop told Business Insider that the app could eventually show you more than posts on social media, like rides with Uber, the songs you listened to on Spotify, your heath tracker data, and even your text messages. The end goal is to be come the ultimate digital archive of your life

Price: Free
Available on: iOSAndroid

TI_Graphics_App 100_category heds_On Demand

Uber unlocked the on-demand economy

Uber_star

No app exemplifies the burgeoning on-demand app economy more than Uber, which made hailing a ride with a smartphone app go mainstream. Tap a button to summon a car, tell it where you want to go in the app, and pay for the ride with your credit card stored in the app

If the company has its say, Uber could eventually become the way we get everything from our packages to our groceries

UberEATS, the company’s meal delivery service, is already delivering lunch in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto, and the UberRUSH delivery service works in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android

Postmates will bring you your next meal … and just about anything else

Postmates_Featured_Screen

Postmates was one of the first apps to popularize on-demand food delivery, and it’s steadily grown its footprint to dozens of cities and scored delivery partnerships with big chains like Walgreens, Chipotle, Starbucks, and the Apple Store

The app lets you temporarily hire a delivery person to run an errand for you. It’s typically used for food deliveries from restaurants that don’t tie into apps like Seamless, but you can also ask Postmate workers to get anything for you from any store

Deliveries cost between $5 and $20 on average now, but Postmates’ goal is eventually to offer $1 deliveries in under an hour for everyone

Price: Free
Available on: iOS, Android

Shyp will deliver your packages for you

Shyp_sender

Shyp takes the hassle out of mailing stuff. It’s really that simple. Using the mobile app, you take a picture of whatever you want to mail, and a Shyp courier comes to your door and takes it to a nearby facility where it’s expertly packaged and sent on its way

The app’s most recent update lets you create a user name for your address so people can send you things by entering only your name. There’s also a built-in packaging tracker that works for senders and Shyp recipients

By taking your interactions with the post office out of the equation, Shyp has proven that it delivers an experience people want. So far, the startup is only operational in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago, but the company told Tech Insider that it’s seeing 20% more shipments each month

Price: Free to download (prices vary based on shipment)
Available on: iOS, Android

Instacart will do your grocery shopping

Instacart

If Instacart has its way, you’ll never have to worry about getting your groceries again. Select what you want from a local store, like Whole Foods or Costco, and an Instacart worker will do your shopping for you and deliver it to your door. The service is only available in 19 states so far, but it’s seen steady growth since it launched in 2012

Price: Free (groceries cost money though)
Available on: iOSAndroid

to be continued

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