Although there’s a chance that life and business may be back to normal in a couple months, I think it is safe to say that the future, at least some aspects of it, will look quite different from the past.
In fact, many people have made the argument that COVID-19 has permanently changed the way we live, not least by simply disrupting our routines. Whether or not that is the case, it is more crucial than ever to start going digital, and these days that also means going mobile.
Paired in time with the pandemic, people are also questioning the system. The past few weeks, we have seen protests conducted on a scale never seen before in recent history.
Not all is bad. Sure, as makers and business owners we are being forced to adapt to these turbulent times, and such change can be extremely hectic.
But it also gives us a chance to reflect on the future. Further, the raised awareness of various injustices also provide a unique opportunity to help.
So let’s explore different ways we can adapt to the new times, help our local communities, and raise awareness of social injustice. With the right app idea and development method, we can all do a lot!
Here are 17 app ideas for our changing society:
1. Employee app for remote work accountability
COVID-19 may be temporary, but the push to go remote could be permanent. One of the fears that many people have expressed about working from home is having accountability.
A study conducted by Partners in Leadership Workplace Accountability Study
showed that 82% of respondents felt like they had no way to hold their team members accountable, although 91% of all respondents felt like it was top priority to do so. And this was in a normal office environment!
One way of combating the issue of accountability among remote workers would be to enforce a work-from-office policy. Another way, however, would be to find a way to increase accountability among deskless employees.
A mobile app could be perfect for holding the team accountable for what they get done. This mobile app would simply be for your own business use, distributed among employees. Although it’s up to you to design the details, one idea could be to create a projects board containing different tasks, each assigned to relevant collaborators, with dates, reminders, and a checkmark feature to boost awareness of what is getting done.
2. Work collaboration app to increase engagement and communication while ‘deskless’
Another major concern about working from home is loneliness. According to the Healthline index
and YouGov, Americans are reporting a significant increase in depression and anxiety related to isolation and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides, most of us can testify from our own anecdotal evidence that productivity goes down when we are lonely and not social.
Further, in this survey from Buffer
, people say that communication suffers when going remote. Here is a graph Buffer provided listing peoples’ concerns about remote working, communication high among them.
A mobile app could be a way to combat both of these issues - miscommunication and loneliness - in one swoop.
3. Brainstorming (Steve Job’s collisions/whiteboard moments) app for remote employees
Steve Jobs is known for his emphasis on room layout so that there could be casual collisions and “serendipitous personal encounters”, in Jobs’ own words, that could lead to great ideas. In fact, one reason Jobs was so meticulous about the layout of offices was to discourage remote work.
Along with emphasizing casual collisions, Jobs was prone to use a whiteboard. He did nearly all his important brainstorming during in-person meetings using a whiteboard.
Is there a way to replicate all this in an age when collaboration has gone remote?
Perhaps one way is a collaboration app specifically designed for brainstorming ideas. Mobile apps are also great at encouraging one to network and chat freely - perhaps even leading to a serendipitous encounter like Jobs wanted.
4. App productivity tracker
It’s hard to stay distraction free during these changing and turbulent times. Here’s an app idea to help with that.
The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, set the standard for time management. The technique is to do tasks in 25-minute intervals since, according to various studies, humans can only function at peak performance for 25 minutes at a time.
Further, location also plays a major factor in being productive and distraction free. And when working from home, location can seem unchangeable.
A mobile app that allows you to do tasks in 25-minute bursts, all the while pegged to a location in your house or at a coffee shop or library, tracking your productivity in terms of, say, word count, could be helpful.
5. Out-of-business tracker - how many restaurants etc. are going out of business and where - could give an idea of trends
The international shutdown during the pandemic has caused stress on businesses, and many are shutting down permanently.
Databases are great for tracking information like this - but they’re also a headache to read through. A mobile app that displays the data of closed restaurants in a visual and intuitive way would be invaluable during this time.
6. Real estate tracker - are offices and cinemas and so on being abandoned as people start remote work and all the ways to track that
Corporate real estate has taken a heavy hit lately, and yet price and loans have surged.
During this time, it would be invaluable to have a mobile-first app displaying information about abandoned real estate. And further, you could have a page listing creative uses for those buildings. Submissions for new ideas could be collected and, say, voted on.
7. Get together meets - as people are going remote and, given COVID-19 reduces as a factor, plan get-togethers to remain social.
This is a possible App Store/Google Play idea.
If the trend of going remote and WFH continues, then people will be craving social events. A networking app for meetups, although not totally original, could have particular appeal now.
8. Delivery service app - the elderly may be having trouble getting out - a nonprofit app to deliver curbside service for free to 65+ in your community
Social causes are getting a lot of awareness right now - and for good reason. A lot of people right now need help because of COVID or are facing injustice.
Sometimes as a maker, it’s very rewarding to help out in your community with an idea like the above.
9. Mental health app
Further, in-person therapy could not be accessed for a while. So, some people have turned to mental health apps.
There are several mental health apps out there, although no definitive one. Encouraging good habits and reminders of gratitude are all features one could have.
A similar app could be one for meditation. A case could be made that more people are turning inward because of the turbulence in the world.
10. Health goals tracker
It’s hard for people to hold their health accountable in any circumstance, much less in the shakiness of 2020.
Sure, there are many commercial health apps out there. However, with the advent of nocode, it is possible to create an app for little cost that you can use for personal use and to distribute to friends. The advantage here is you can make your own app fully customizable to any given plan.
11. Cost cutting tracker - how much money are you cutting (or spending?) as you or your team goes remote
An app for individuals to track their spending following COVID-19 may be enlightening for some people to use. Minimal use of gas, minimal shopping, and not eating out may have contributed to money saved. This minimal lifestyle may be a habit someone would want to get into - a feature in the same app to do could work.
The same principle could definitely apply to teams and businesses. How has spending changed following the lockdown? Are there principles from this that you may want to implement in the future?
12. Accomplishments board - what are team members accomplishing inside and outside of work?
It’s important for people to stay motivated while working remotely. Motivation, it turns out, is a concern that people have while doing WFH.
13. Employee prospect app
Having an Airtable-like database (check out this reference), except in the form of a mobile app, would be a huge advantage for those trying to make the right hire, especially with the conflicts that arise when hiring remotely.
14. CEOs for social change
An app showing the business leaders and companies that have made statements about social injustice. Perhaps add a feature so that anyone can submit a person or company announcement to the list. This site is doing something similar.
But it’s not all about the public figures! In a similar light, you could create a curated list of social causes anyone could help crowdfund - all in a visually displayed and easy-to-access app.
15. Collaboration platform for individual makers/creators to brainstorm products for social justice
There’s so many high-quality makers and content creators out there! A collaboration platform where makers and creators can connect, network, and exchange ideas, primarily for the purpose of bringing social change, may be a great ship during this time.
Many projects, such as this one
, have been made by creators to help social causes.
16. Educational app about social injustice and change
Teaching is very important, and it certainly influences change. Considering the racial discourse happening right now, along with the question of whether or not school will resume in the Fall, it may be worthwhile to create an app that provides short, easy-to-follow lessons on the history of social injustice and what we can do now.
17. Communications app particularly tuned for an inclusive work culture
Communication will either turn a company’s culture exclusive to certain people and ideas or inclusive to all types of people, background, and their ideas. Perhaps more than ever, the second work culture is needed.
Again, it is the way communication is handled that will, in part, dictate the culture. In the former, the communication will be rigid and filtered top-down. In the latter, communication is streamlined and networked across all people and fields.
A great way to encourage streamlined and unfiltered communication is to have a mobile first app synching all communication. A supplement to Slack or an integration with it could be ideal.
And there you have it!
I hope that these app ideas inspire you to go out and make something great!