App Usage – an insight into the ways fragmented devices continue to restructure human communication, connectivity and activity #ARTS3091

20 May

Apps have been developed to the point of being able to accommodate every human need and desire. Whether it be for communication, travel, time, music, news, navigation, gaming, banking and many other day-to-day activities, there will be an App to accommodate for it. This fragmented media has become such a prominent feature in our daily routines, that Apps are essentially “altering how we interact with the physical environment” (Boiler 2013).


Looking at all the Apps on my iPhone as a whole, they reflect my daily routine. My alarm up wakes me up, TripView provides me with my morning bus times, Google maps navigates me when I’m lost, the weather app influences my clothes choice, the SMH app enables me to read the news each morning, and the list goes on…without Apps my daily routine would be structured very differently.


Three Apps that have influenced the way I interact with the physical environment include “Quiz Up”, “Snapchat” and “Play Melbourne.”


“Quiz Up”, is a questionnaire gaming App that enables gamers to play with strangers around the world as well as local friends. Like many gaming Apps, this App is extremely addictive, and has actually become part of my daily routine. Instead of reading a book before going to sleep, I will sit in bed and play this game for hours. My boyfriend and I often verse each other, even when he’s sitting right next to me. It’s alarming that we are so addicted to this game that we would rather sit on our phones then have a face-to-face conversation! The vast extent and variety of gaming Apps rings alarm bells…would people rather play a game of football or ping pong on an App than actually physically play it outside?


“Snapchap” is an App that has greatly substituted my written communication with others. Rather than writing a long message after witnessing a funny situation, I will simply Snapchat it to a friend. As I use Snapchat so much, my brain has reached the point of subconsciously analysing whether physical acts/moments throughout my day will be ‘Snapchat worthy’ – greatly reshaping show I interact with my physical environment and to the point of causing me to move slower through my day.


“Play Melbourne” is a tourism App that opened up opportunities to experience museums, restaurants, bars, and many other tourist attractions in Melbourne that I probably wouldn’t have discovered if I simply read a tourist pamphlet. The App located my position (wherever I was during the day or night) and brought to my attention the nearest places I was specifically searching for. For example, I was able to find a rooftop bar, Italian restaurant and nail parlor within about 1 minute and all within approximately 5 meters of each other. This App definitely saves a great deal of time and inconvenience of asking various people where things are or consulting city maps etc.


As Apps continue to shape personal daily-routines and they way we communicate with one another, it’s interesting to think about how Apps/computing technology are utilised in the business world. It must be questioned how are they used by commercial companies and further, how they have influenced physical design within our “ambient commons”? (Boiler 2013).


Malcom McCullough states, “The more interactive technology mediates everyday experience, the more it becomes subject matter for design” (McCullough 2004, p. 3).Architects have incorporated media technology into the structural design of major cities to the extent that it is now “…on building facades, billboards, hotel lobbies, restaurants, elevators and even gas pumps” (Boiler 2013). When I shop in Zara and Topshop, I actually have to scan my bag before going into the fitting rooms – a very inconvenient and arguably unnecessary device that clogs up the queues when the scanner is not working properly. Camera devices record every person’s movement as they shop around or even float around the streets. A Japanese restaurant around the corner from my house called “Kokoroya” has an iPad on each table with a “menu-order” App, which enables customers to order their food without having to bother waiting for or calling over a waitress.


Evidently, computer technology and the development of Apps have influenced the way buildings and businesses are structured. Although many have enhanced convenience, the failures of Apps/computing devices that continue to clog and add unnecessary time and expense to our already mediated world must be considered. For example, is there really a point in having a ‘Blacksock App’ that sorts your black socks which are already matching anyway? (Martin 2012). Or an App that alerts you to when your new-born baby has wet his or her nappy during the night while you’re having a nice dinner with your loved one or are out with friends? (Dodson 2013). As McCullough cautioned,


“…decision-makers have become so caught up in modernity’s mechanistic beliefs that they reject most appeals to nature…let us focus on habits rather than novelties, on people rather than machines, and the richness of existing places rather than invention from thin air” (McCullough 2004, p.24).




Bollier, D (2013) How Will We Reclaim and Shape the Ambient Commons?, David Bollier: news and perspectives on the commons, accessed 20 May 2014, <>.


Bratton, B (2014) On Apps and Elementary Forms of Interfacial Life: Object, Image, Superimpositio’,, accessed 19 May 2014, <>.


Dodson, B 2013, Huggies TweetPee app in the (water)works, gizmag, accessed 20 May 2014 <;.


Martin, J (2012) Totally Ridiculous and Unnecessary Apps Hall of Fame: Blacksocks App Sorts…Black Socks, CIO, accessed 19 May 2014, <;.


McCullough, M (2004) Digital Ground Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 3-24.



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