The applications you add to your smartphone can label you as a specific “appitypes,” says Trevor Pinch, professor of science and technology studies, who worked as a consultant for the Finnish telecomm giant Nokia.
Pinch used survey data on app usage from 5,000 smartphone users in 10 countries to create appitypes to help define user profiles. Appitypes play into people’s desire to project an identity and could be of use to developers and users alike.
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For example, Pinch said an “appcentric” is an extreme user who uses the mobile phone as their main computing device for anything from data management to playing games. The “appthusiast” is someone who feels the need to search out and download the latest apps. The “live wire” downloads a mix of fitness, social and travel apps.
The Creator appitype is “The Picasso of personality types when it comes to app habits,” says Pinch. “Creators are very expressive and carry a multitude of apps that allow them to be spontaneously creative. They could be art teachers, therapists with a penchant for drawing or heavy metal heads. The entertainment industry is full of Creators.”
The survey found that Germans were downloading flashlight and alarm clock apps, Pinch said, while Brazilians download lots of music and social networking apps. The Chinese download news apps. South Africans prefer social networking apps. India goes in for business apps.
While previous data had been collected on the number of apps users have, there was no global survey of smartphone users, until now.
“Think about connections between humans and technology,” Pinch said. “You can have smartphones with you all the time. You can sleep with the thing if you want. These apps capture people’s imagination and add mobility. There is nothing inevitable about the path technology takes. We need more research on how people and technology together can produce meaningful change in our lives.”