Mobile App Standouts from SXSW 2014
This year’s SXSW festival proved to be busier than ever with more startups vying for attention and funding. While most of the focus during SXSW was on new hardware—wearables, cameras and gaming tech—there were a few apps that stuck out to us.
Here, we share some of the most buzzed-about apps that launched at SXSW 2014 (and an interesting app trend) that we think have potential. Just don’t hold your breath for the next Twitter.
After you’re all synced, you should be able to receive texts and calls through those other devices, even if your phone is far away, turned off, or in most cases, dead.
PPLConnect can also come in handy when traveling overseas to avoid costly roaming fees. The app is in the beta testing stage right now and is only available for Android. The developers state that as soon as it’s officially released in a few weeks, PPLConnect will include even more in-app features.
Milk Music is another Android app, available in the US only. It’s a free radio service made simple; no ads, no cost, just music. The layout is attractive and sleek, with two dials: the outer dial allows you to choose a genre and the inner dial lets you pick a subsection within that genre.
There is also a Spotlight choice that gives you music handpicked by people within the industry. With over 12 million songs to choose from and 200 genre stations, this app should satisfy even the pickiest music critic, but will it stack up against the Pandoras of the app world?
You can chat with one friend at a time or make a group with as many contacts as you’d like. Omlet allows you to send not only messages but also photos, links, check-ins, voice notes and GIFs. Sounds pretty basic, but the app design brings the links to life by turning them into previews, pictures are automatically neatly collaged, and GIFs can be searched for easily through Giphy.
Location can be shared, as well as specific places on a map, so you can create an event and show people where to meet up. There are also cute little details like the ability to “like” things multiple times and grow the tiny heart next to the message. Omlet makes it clear that they are different than other social apps in the fact that what you share cannot be saved or accessed by the app developers—you don’t have to worry about your messages or pictures being used without your consent.
App trend: Anonymous social apps
A big trend that arose toward the end of last year is anonymous social networking, and these super secret apps popped up even more at SXSW. While there isn’t one standout, we’ve rounded up a few interesting ones to check out in addition to Confide, a secret messaging app that we’ve already raved about here at The Recapp.
Whisper was released in app form in 2012 and mimics the website that it’s based on. Basically, users write something they want to keep anonymous (the posts run from the bizarre to the slightly sad) and post it in front of a picture of their choice. It’s then uploaded and shared with all users around the world. Whisper is kind of like a personal diary, but cathartic in the sense that other people can read your deepest, darkest secrets (without really knowing whose secrets they are).
Like Whisper, Secret is an app based around the original site PostSecret. Again, users post their secrets, usually backed by moody or beautiful pictures, and send them out into the app’s network. The difference between the two is that while Whisper shares your posts with the whole network and shows you everyone else’s posts, Secret only shows you the posts of “friends” and “friends of friends,” making it a little more intimate. Friends are people you follow—the only downside is that if you don’t follow a lot of people, your content is going to be limited. And if a person follows only you, your secrets might not be so, well, secret.
Taking a slightly different route, Austin-based app Banter is basically a mobile chat room. Enter chats that interest you—there are topics ranging from video games to kittens—or create your own chat. You’re under the guise of a screen name (reminiscent of AOL Instant Messenger), which is consistent with the anonymous factor and allows you to voice your opinions without feeling embarrassed. You can even turn on your GPS and choose to chat with users nearby to see what interests you might possibly have in common. This is for people who just want to talk to other people about anything without the need to introduce themselves.