Social networking is about more than just connecting with people. It has evolved as people have begun to develop innovative communication methods and practices:
Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and the now outdated MySpace initially sought to connect us at almost every moment of the day, no matter where we are.
Achieving this goal, the focus has shifted to mobile and how innovation in communication can be achieved, by any means necessary!
Let’s take a look at the best social media apps for iPhone and Android going into 2015 that are actually improving the way that we communicate online.
I am not going to cover the big 3: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as these have become standard social apps for most people. Beyond these three what are the best apps for 2015?
Snapchat – sharing picture based moments
Snapchat was initially a service that allowed for people to send each other photo messages that expired up to 10 seconds after they were opened, deleting all traces of the image. If someone was to take a screenshot then the sender would be notified.
While it got off to a fairly poor start with very few people using the service for its actual intended purpose, the introduction of “My Story” two years ago gave a massive boost to Snapchat’s usage and uniqueness as a platform.
The “My Story” feature allows for people to post snaps to a feed that can be viewed by all of that user’s contacts as many times as they want for up to 24 hours after each snap was posted.
On its own this isn’t anything particularly remarkable, but thanks to the likes of Vine and Twitter personalities such as Jerome Jarre and Shonduras the Story feature soon became another free platform for creative expression.
Snapchat has a horrible user interface, buggy coding and a lot of half-done features (there’s still no method of finding people on there unless you have their username beforehand, and the search tool doesn’t actually search) yet continues to be used by over 100 million people on a day-to-day basis, and it’s clear to see why.
Monetization of the app through the new “Discover” feature too allows Snapchat to continue to be free and without app-breaking adverts. Partnerships between HP, Disney and a few other companies have allowed content producers to earn a bit of cash, too, without enforcing ads.
Snapchat is constantly re-imagining old communication design concepts, albeit in a slightly unpolished way. It’s a must have for fans of similar services such as Vine and Instagram.
SoundCloud – sharing sound
“What if we combine Facebook and Musicians?” The answer is SoundCloud; a service that allows for both bands and individuals to create pages and upload their music, remix or whatever it may be that they’ve created musically and get discovered via hashtag support, ratings, Facebook integration, a Twitter-esque “follow system” and a whole lot more.
SoundCloud runs in HTML5, allowing for fast loading cross-platform music playing. Their innovative comment system allows for people to post comments onto sounds at specific points during the audio, meaning that the content creators can have more finely tuned feedback on specific parts of their songs.
Another relatively recent venture was the mobile app which, on Android, complies with material design standards and, on iOS, follows the system theme throughout. This app on either platform has a nice design with an equally good tablet UI.
Its only issue is that there are limits on total minutes uploaded unless a Pro subscription is bought, but for only £3.99 or £8 (two tiers) a month, this isn’t an issue for anyone who is serious about their work.
SoundCloud is the social network for musicians, blowing similar services like MySpace and BandCamp right out of the water.
MeowChat – A new combo platform
You probably haven’t heard of MeowChat before. That’s likely due to it being released 3 days prior to writing this article.
Yet, in only 3 days, it’s attained over 10 million installations and over 100,000 5* reviews on Google Play.
The best way to describe MeowChat is that it is a cross between Tinder, Instagram and Snapchat. Tinder in the sense that it pairs you with people local to you (or global if you select that option) and allows you to chat with them and find new friends.
Instagram in the fact that there is a blatant clone of Instagram’s profile page (even down to the icons drawn) for each users profile and Snapchat in that, again, there is a 10 second video recording feature that is suspiciously a lot like Snapchat’s UI.
This doesn’t necessarily make the app bad, however, as where it does copy things from other services it does them in a very nice way and each feature is coded well and properly thought out beforehand.
It’s essentially a one-stop for all of your social media needs and in the coming years will likely be some serious competition for “the boys upstairs”; Facebook and its services.
It’s worth a look at, if only a brief look, as it doesn’t do anything particularly special other than bridge the gap between these other apps. If you’re able to convince your friends to use it then it’ll likely be much more preferable for use than the others but, for the moment, it needs some time to develop and have a larger user base.
This is one to look at for as it grows throughout 2015!
Strava – Facebook for athletes
Strava is similar to SoundCloud in that it, too, attempts to answer the question “What would happen if we took Facebook and combined it with X?” In this case X = athletes.
Strava is a service that allows for people to track their athletic activity using their smartphone (or smartwatch)’s GPS system. Distance is calculated, followed by pace, time and calories burned. An interactive map is also created to show exactly where that person ran and their average pace per kilometre.
What sets this app apart from something like Nike+ is the inclusion of a variety of sports: jogging, running, swimming, cycling, Football and a lot more are all natively supported and ready to go with calculations on calories and effort for each.
Another feature is “Segments” where, for specifically laid out pathways that are particularly difficult to run or bike up or that are otherwise of interest, leader boards are generated.
This means that during your exercise you have a lot of different options: you can try and beat your personal record for distance, calories burned, time per km, distance speed or segment time, which can then be compared against other athletes that have ran through that zone.
As Strava is so widely used new segments show up by the hundred every week and most all have at least 100 entries into the leaderboard, even in the most obscure of places.
The ability to search up fellow athletes, leave a “Kudos” or comment on your friends activity and follow those you look up to, along with monthly competitions and challenges, is what makes Strava such a good social media app. Nothing gets your more motivated to get out there and do some exercise than seeing your friends doing it too.
Strava is a must have for active people who are looking for a way of getting more motivation or involving their friends in their activity.
We’ve tried to keep away from the giants like Facebook in this list, which is why innovative apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp were left out. Both of these are well maintained and nicely designed social media apps that are definitely worth looking at if you haven’t already.
Some other apps that sort of fit into the “social media apps” category are Imgur, an image-host turned image-board where cute and funny images and gifs are posted en masse every second of every day, Google+, which gets a bad rep due to Google’s enforcement of it but which is actually a really nicely designed and coded piece of software, and finally Tumblr, a very nice blogging system with a reasonably good community (although it can be a bit overwhelming at times).
Did we leave out your favourite app? Let us know via Twitter!
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