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Best of British Apps: 50 innovative mobile applications from the UK

Best of British Apps: 50 innovative mobile applications from the UK

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Published by Stuart Dredge
A report by The Appside, together with UKTI and the ICT KTN, giving a snapshot of recent innovative apps made by UK companies.
A report by The Appside, together with UKTI and the ICT KTN, giving a snapshot of recent innovative apps made by UK companies.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Stuart Dredge on Feb 23, 2012
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50 Innovative Mobile Applications from the UK

A report by The Appside, in association with UKTI and the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network
App opportunities
The mobile apps industry has exploded since the launch of Apple’s App Store in 2008, with British startups and developers joining the party.
Strange though it may sound to younger app users and developers, downloadable applications for mobile phones weren’t invented by Apple for its iPhone. In the days of ringtones and wallpapers, mobile games was a thriving sector. Games were bought mainly from mobile operators, too often through a cumbersome many-click process. There were some great games available, but there were also a lot of poor ones: especially those where most of the publisher’s budget had been spent signing a movie or brand licence, rather than on the actual development. Meanwhile, there was also a healthy scene of developers making software for PDAs and smartphone operating systems like Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. These applications tended to be sold through websites which built strong communities, yet were still specialists serving a niche audience. Mobile applications existed before the App Store’s launch, but they weren’t mainstream. And this is why Apple didn’t invent mobile applications. Instead, it rebranded them as apps. For that company, its rivals and hundreds of thousands of developers, it has been a rollercoaster ride ever since.

Best of British Apps

Vital statistics
Some stats. By the start of 2011, more than 10bn apps had been downloaded from Google’s Android Market, while Apple’s App Store was closing on on the 20bn milestone. Even RIM – with all its critics in the last

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couple of years – has done more than 2bn downloads from its BlackBerry App World Store. Analyst firm Ovum thinks that 18bn mobile apps were downloaded in 2011, with paid apps generating $3.7bn of revenues that year. It expects those figures to rise to 45bn and $7.7bn respectively in 2016. Other companies are even more bullish. Juniper Research is predicting $52bn of revenues from consumer mobile apps in 2016, while IDC thinks that 2015 will see 182.7bn app downloads globally – Gartner thinks that the market will top 185bn annual downloads a year before that, in 2014. Mobile analytics firm Flurry has conducted its own research, estimating in December 2011 that 17m people in the UK had used apps in the last 30 days on iOS and Android alone. In November, comScore estimated that 44.9% of British mobile owners were using downloaded applications. augmented reality: much of the evidence so far suggests British app users are more practical in their tastes.

Practical habits
What kind of apps are Brits using most often on their smartphones? Some separate research from comScore and mobile industry body the GSMA hints at a desire for function and usefulness over interactive fripperies. The study found that the most popular ‘connected’ app in the UK was Google Maps, with just over 6.4m users. It was followed by Yahoo! Weather (3.6m), Facebook (3.5m), Google Mobile (2.6m), YouTube (2.4m), eBay (1.2m), and Sky Sports Live Football Score Centre (1m), with stock prices, messaging, news and house prices all appearing lower down the list. This doesn’t tell the whole story: the research didn’t identify non-connected apps like mobile games (hence no Angry Birds), nor did it cover RIM’s BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) app, which has a huge userbase in the UK. Even so, this chart may dampen some of the hype around areas like social location and

Opportunity knocks
These are early days for the apps industry, though. 2011 saw a blistering array of innovation from startups and independent developers, as well as from larger publishers, brands and entertainment companies. It was a time for exploration of new technologies and services, and for learning what makes an engaging, successful app as opposed to a clunky, inappropriate-to-themedium flop. Admittedly, that meant plenty of the latter, thankfully balanced out by enough examples of the former. There is a big opportunity here, though. Apps have emerged as an important new platform - alongside the mobile web rather than in competition with it as is often suggested. Brands, entertainment companies and businesses are looking to invest in apps, whether their own or in partnerships with those of other companies, and there is no shortage of talented developers and innovative startups for these companies to work with.

Survey numbers
Market research also shows how apps have grown. A survey conducted in early 2012 by the Sunday Times found that the average British smartphone owner has around 38 apps on their device, with more than half saying they download a new app at least once a week. The survey suggested that more than half of British smartphone owners use their handsets more for apps than for calls or texts - although this may well include apps that replace both those functions - while claiming that 81m apps were downloaded in the UK in the last week of 2011 alone.

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companies around the world, from one or two-person teams through to big brands and entertainment companies. An app can be published globally on something like the App Store in a matter of clicks, which admittedly brings with it challenges for customer support, localisation and marketing among other areas. So this report isn’t an attempt to position the UK as the world’s most innovative apps market, nor is it a parochial suggestion that there is a set of characteristics that define a ‘great British app’ in opposition to those from other countries. It’s also not a list of the 50 best British apps ever made. Instead, it’s a collection of innovative apps launched in the latter part of 2011 and early 2012: a snapshot of what’s going on here. It’s 50 reasons to be excited about what’s happening already, and what might happen in the rest of 2012 and beyond. Apps as a concept might not be new, as we explained, but the excitement around them remains fresh.

Disruption coming
Mobile is so exciting in 2012 because of the disruption that apps are contributing to in all manner of industries. In music, for example, apps are driving paid subscriptions for services like Spotify, which are disrupting the model of music ownership in favour of access. In the film and TV industries, look at the role apps play for disruptive services like Netflix, Hulu and the BBC’s iPlayer. For the games industry, iOS and Android - along with Facebook - are at the forefront of the march of freemium pricing models.

Newspapers and magazines see apps as the answer to their struggle to make money from digital, while the publishing world is starting to reinvent the book through apps - particularly in the children’s market, where book-apps sit in a lip-smackingly enticing middleground between books, short films and games.

The Brits are coming
One of the joys in the apps world is the lack of nationalistic chest-beating. Yes, there are a lot of well-funded app-focused startups in Silicon Valley, but innovation is coming from

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01 - 05: Absolute 80s Remixer, Adele, ArtSpotter, AudioFuel, Aurasma
Singer Adele had a storming 2011, selling millions of copies of her ‘21’ album around the world before scooping six prestigious Grammy awards in February this year. She’s also been a star on Apple’s App Store - and lately Google’s Android Market too - with her official app. It was developed in-house at her record label XL Recordings, a subsidiary of Beggars Group. The team built the app based on the platform of do-it-yourself apps startup Mobile Roadie. As with many music artist apps, there is news, videos and preview clips of tracks, which lead to download stores. However, locationbased aspects are included too: a feature for fans to check in to gigs using Foursquare or Facebook.

AudioFuel Running Music
Startup AudioFuel’s roots are in creating CDs aimed at runners, with the tempo designed to match their heart rate as they progress through their routine. The company’s app does that and more. It includes 14 of AudioFuel’s compilations, downloadable within the app. However, there are also training programmes for various kinds of running, to help users plan their training. The app also makes use of GPS to track the duration, distance and pace of each run, show it on a map and share the route with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Absolute 80s Remixer
British startup Bounce Mobile has its own remix apps available on iPhone, but increasingly it’s turning to bands and broadcasters as a way to get the technology into the hands of music fans. Its partnership with Absolute Radio is the perfect example. The app focuses on music from the 1980s, as played on the Absolute 80s station. Tracks from Go West and ABC are included with others from the likes of Dead or Alive, Howard Jones and Soft Cell available to buy as in-app purchases. Users tap on-screen buttons to trigger samples and instruments, before sharing their remixes with friends.

Aurasma Lite
Along with Blippar, Aurasma is trying to push mobile augmented reality technology forward by working with media and brands. The Aurasma team is part of larger UK technology company Autonomy, which was acquired by HP in October 2011. Aurasma is pitched as a “visual browser”, which recognises images, symbols and objects in the real world or on printed media, and then delivers videos, animations, audio and webpages relating to them. The company has made waves at a series of technology conferences with its impressive demonstrations, while brands including the Daily Mirror, Magners, Bentley, Sky News, Marks & Spencer and Saga have worked with the company.

Fresh out of the Newcastle-based Ignite100 startup accelerator program, ArtSpotter is a location-based guide to art - including galleries, exhibitions and street art. Users can search for nearby artworks, then take photos when visiting to share with others. They can also add exhibitions and galleries to the ArtSpotter database if they’re not included. There’s a big social element, with ‘artspotters’ able to follow one another Twitter-style to keep up to date on new places to visit. It’s a great example of an app whose aim is to get people doing more in the real world, not less.

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06 - 10: Banksy Bristol Tour, BBC iPlayer, Betfair, Blippar, Brit Awards 2012
Banksy Bristol Tour
Bristol developer Gravitywell looked to its roots when making an app based on graffiti artist Banksy. His hometown is also Bristol, and many of his early artworks are still lurking on buildings in the city. The app presents a tour-guide to Banksy’s Bristol scribblings, based on an interactive map helping people find their way between them, with photos and explanations provided for each. Gravitywell worked with local book publisher Tangent Books to source the textual content for the app, which includes a look at the history and meaning of each artwork.

Betfair for iPad
British betting exchange company Betfair has been investing heavily in its mobile offering for years, with a selection of apps and a mobile website enabling its punters to gamble from their smartphones or tablets. In early 2012, its iPad app was relaunched, building on lessons learned about how customers want to use their tablets to get fast access to the service’s features. A homepage built around currently-popular events is complemented by the ability to drill deep into different sports and competitions. Gambling may be a very specific industry, but Betfair’s app has lessons to teach all e-commerce firms.

Blippar is one of a clutch of British startups looking to find uses for mobile augmented reality technology. Its app encourages people to ‘blipp’ items in the real world: newspapers and other print media, posters and packaging for example. Pointing an iPhone or Android’s camera at compatible materials brings up content or information, including games, animation and web-links. Blippar has been working hard to get brands to experiment with its technology. Recent examples include Guinness, EMI, Tesco, Heineken and Cadbury. As more sign on, the basic Blippar app is likely to find its way onto more people’s smartphones.

Brit Awards 2012
UK developer Noise Inc has its roots in the music industry, and it capitalised on these contacts with its official app for the Brit Awards, which were held in February. The app was released for iPhone as a free download, supported by event sponsor MasterCard. On one level, the Brits app does the obvious, basic features fans would expect from this kind of application: providing news on the event and - once it had taken place - links to buy downloads of performances from Apple’s iTunes Store. Its innovation, though, was the ability for users to actually vote in the three categories open to the public - British Single, British Breakthrough Act and British Group.

BBC iPlayer
British broadcaster the BBC launched its first iPlayer catch-up TV apps for iPad and Android devices in February 2011, before following up with an iPhone version in December that year. By the end of 2011, 10% of total consumption of the iPlayer service was on mobile phones and tablets, up from 5% a year before. Thus far, the iPlayer app has focused on playing TV and radio shows on-demand: it’s free in the UK, although a separate version has been released elsewhere in the world using a subscription model. Both versions now stream content over 3G as well as Wi-Fi - something that took a while to introduce in the UK, with operators nervous about the possible strain on their networks.

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11 - 15: Chiltern Railways, Cinderella, Clear, Closet Swap, Cupple
Chiltern Railways
Another local startup, Masabi, has been quietly breaking new ground in mobile transport ticketing, working with a number of rail operators in the UK to allow their passengers to buy tickets on their phones. The Chiltern Railways app is a very good example. The m-tickets are bought as barcodes, to be stored on the phone and shown to ticket inspectors and/or scanned at station barriers. The app saves recent journeys and details to speed up the purchasing process, and there is an additional incentive to use the app: no booking fees.

There are hundreds of apps for making To Do lists, but Clear has by far the most innovative user interface. Launched in February 2012 by Brighton-based Realmac Software, it does away entirely with virtual buttons in favour of swipes, pinches and taps. The idea: if a great To Do list is about simplifying the clutter of life, why shouldn’t a To Do list app simplify the clutter of its interface? Clear users swipe down or pinch items apart to add new items, swipe right to mark them as completed, and drag them into an order with heat-map colours showing the most pressing tasks. The app secured considerable buzz before its release within the apps and design communities for its feat in introducing a new interface in an accessible manner.

Closet Swap
The Closet Swap app is part of a larger project commissioned by UK broadcaster Channel 4 and developed by London studio Inensu. The project’s goal is to promote sustainable fashion: people buying secondhand clothes or swapping with friends rather than purchasing new items. The app includes the ability to take photos of outfits or items and send a ‘Fashion SOS’ to friends to see if they have something similar. It also provides a guide to sustainable fashion stores near the user’s current location, and lets them access their virtual clothing collection on the main Closet Swap website.

London firm Nosy Crow straddles the physical and digital worlds, publishing a range of physical books for children, but also original bookapps on iOS. Cinderella was one of its key titles in 2011, and is a beautiful interactive retelling of the popular fairy tale. Available on iPhone and iPad, the app really comes into its own on the latter, as children tap and swipe their way through the story. Characters are voiced by children, and there is clever use of the iPad 2’s frontfacing camera to put users into the scenes. Cinderella is a good example of the way storytelling apps are moving into a space somewhere between books, games and short films.

Newcastle-based Darling Dash launched Cupple in November 2011 as the most private form of social networking yet: a sharing application designed to be used by two people in a relationship. The idea: a slick app to share photos and location data, as well as messaging one another. The target audience are couples who are apart, whether for a few hours, days or even weeks depending on their jobs and lifestyles. At a time when the thrust of many larger social networks is encouraging people to share more content with more people, Cupple stands out for its more intimate approach, as well as for its carefully-tuned design.

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16 - 20:

Cyclepedia, Dancing On Ice, Dimensions, Doctor Who, Domino’s Pizza
Dancing On Ice
British startup Live Talkback is one of the companies at the forefront of the exploration of the potential of ‘second-screen’ apps for popular TV shows. Having yielded innovative apps for Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor, the company’s partnership with broadcaster ITV has now led to Dancing On Ice. Based on the celebrity ice-dancing show of the same name, the app offers video catchups, highlights and show previews. However, it’s also designed to be used while watching the programme live on Saturday nights, allowing fans to score every dance as they happen, and share those scores with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Doctor Who - Encyclopedia
The BBC’s resurgent Doctor Who show formed the basis for one of the richest TV-derived apps of 2011 in the form of this iPad Encyclopedia, published by books firm Random House and developed by agency Brandwidth. The app claims to be “the ultimate series companion and episode guide” to the last seven years’ of Doctor Who series, although only those covered by the latest actor to play The Doctor, Matt Smith, are included. In-app packs costing £4.99 apiece cover the previous two Doctors. The content itself includes biographies of enemies and allies of the main characters, a guide to places visited during the show, and links to preview and buy episodes from Apple’s iTunes Store.

Book publisher Thames & Hudson teamed up with apps developer Heuristic Media for Cyclepedia, an interactive guide to more than 100 bicycles that “changed cycling history”. Each bike is available to spin and zoom in high-resolution detail, while every one has a story to tell through text, video clips, brochures, advertisements and engineering drawings. Along with similar apps by Touch Press - see Skulls in this report Cyclepedia shows how reference books are evolving in the tablet era, becoming much more tactile and much less linear in the way readers find their way through the content.

Dimensions: Adventures in the Multiverse
London-based startup Reality Jockey made its name with the RjDj sound manipulation app back in 2008, and the company has since launched several more remix-focused music apps. Dimensions is its first step into mobile gaming, though. The idea here: a game using the player’s location and “augmented sound” to give a more gripping experience, yet also one that weaves around their real-world activities rather than interrupting them. In other words, the game is played by walking around, as well as by interacting digitally with friends. It sounds esoteric, but the results are creative, thought-provoking and - most importantly - very fun.

Domino’s Pizza for iPad
As time has gone on, it’s become clear that a key use case for Apple’s iPad and other tablets is on the sofa, often while watching TV. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that a pizza-ordering app has proven popular in the UK. Launched by the Domino’s Pizza chain in the autumn of 2011, its official app helps customers compile their order, including building their own pizza with the toppings of their choice. The app enables orders to be placed with the nearest Domino’s outlet, paying using PayPal if the user has an account. And it also offers vouchers, and the option to track the order’s progress to their door.

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21 - 25:

ESPN Goals, Fanatix, Financial Times, Football Manager Handheld, Funpark Friends
ESPN Goals
Broadcaster and sports media company ESPN raised eyebrows among football fans with its ESPN Goals app in September 2011, when promising free video highlights of the English Premier League for free. Whereas previous Premier League goals service have used subscription pricing, ESPN is relying on ads to fund its app, which pushes out goal highlights during matches, as well as post-game roundups. The app has been downloaded by more than 2m people, taking advantage of the ability to watch goals shortly after they are scored, rather than waiting until a highlights show on TV in the evening.

Financial Times
The Financial Times launched its native iPad app in May 2010, but it was removed from the App Store in August 2011 after the newspaper refused to bow to new Apple rules on managing inapp subscriptions. The FT had launched its ‘web app’ in June – a HTML5-based website for iPhone and iPad-owning subscribers to access its content through their Safari browsers. It is one of the slickest examples yet of how HTML5 can be used to create an app that matches the native version. By November, the app had attracted more than 1m unique users, with those users 2.5 times more likely to subscribe to the FT than website visitors.

Football Manager Handheld 2012
UK studio Sports Interactive first came to prominence with the Championship Manager series of football management games in the early 1990s, before later acquiring the Football Manager brand. Football Manager Handheld 2012 is the company’s second iOS version of its hugely popular franchise. Retailing for a premium price point - £6.99 - the game has been a big hit on the App Store. It has also done an excellent job of transferring a complex PC game to touchscreen tablets and smartphones, making effective use of its reduced screen real-estate. The ability to ‘mirror’ the game on an HDTV and share updates to Twitter from within it show that Football Manager is innovating on iOS too.

Launched by British online ticketing company Tixdaq as a spin-off project, Fanatix is styled as a “social messaging platform for sports fans”. The idea: people connect the app to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, and then use it when watching a sports match on television or live at the stadium. They can then chat to Facebook friends and Fanatix-using strangers about the game, while also browsing what’s being said on Twitter about it. The app cleverly integrates Apple’s iMessage service for private messaging features too – one of the first iPhone apps to do so.

Funpark Friends
The big iOS trend of 2011 was the way freemium games - free to download and play, but funded through premium in-app purchases of virtual items or currency - dominated the App Store charts. Many of those games are the work of US-based developers, but some British studios are exploring freemium too. Dundee-based developer Tag Games is one of them, with Funpark Friends its latest example. It follows the basic game mechanic laid down by EA’s Theme Park, as players construct their own amusement park. In this case, that involves earning or buying virtual rides for the park, choosing from themed decoration sets. Social features are on the way too, such as the ability to visit friends’ attractions.

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26 - 30:

Great British Chefs, Guardian, Heineken Star Player, London Bus Checker, Miss Selfridge
Guardian iPad Edition
The Guardian took its time launching a native iPad app in comparison with some of its British newspaper rivals, but when it came, it received a warm reception from the industry and from readers. The app presents the daily Guardian newspaper in digital form: the same stories as the print edition, but with a completely new layout designed to make best use of the tablet touchscreen. Each daily issue is downloaded in the background through Apple’s Newsstand service, with readers paying £9.99 a month to receive them. The app also makes use of video and social features.

London Bus Checker
The decision of Transport for London to make real-time data on bus routes available for developers is spurring a burst of innovation, with London Bus Checker one of the most popular app examples so far. It draws on data including bus locations and route maps to show users exactly when they can expect to catch their next bus, while directing them to the nearest stop, and even alerting them when travelling that they’ll soon need to get off. Developed by British firm FatAttitude, it’s a good example of the commercial possibilities when independent developers get to work with data provided by a public service or authority.

Great British Chefs
Great British Chefs isn’t just an app: it’s a startup based in London with the ambition of championing chefs from around the UK. Its first app launched in July 2011, with a separate ‘Feastive’ edition following in November that year. The original iPad app includes more than 180 recipes from 12 chefs, enabling users to search by ingredient, chef or course when deciding on a meal to cook. High-resolution photos and video tutorials aim to ensure the process is a smooth one. Great British Chefs is a good example of a company looking to build a trusted brand through apps, even while competing with well-established celebrity chef and book/TV brands on the App Store.

Heineken Star Player
There are many branded apps without a clear purpose beyond brand promotion – and they tend not to do well on the app stores. Heineken’s football-focused Star Player is different: it could be a successful product in its own right. Developed by London creative agency AKQA for Heineken, it’s a second-screen app for fans watching UEFA Champions League matches on TV. They get to play along live, predicting “match moments” like corners and goals, scoring points for their correct forecasts. The app is social, too: people can create mini-leagues of their friends to see who’s the most successful predictor, and there are global leaderboards too.

Miss Selfridge
Edinburgh-based mobile commerce company No Need 4 Mirrors (NN4M for short) developed this iPhone app for fashion chain Miss Selfridge, and it’s a good example of how retail apps are evolving to be used in-store as well as elsewhere. Users can browse the company’s online collection from their device, while tagging specific items and sharing them with friends via social networks. When in a Miss Selfridge store, users can scan barcodes on items if their size isn’t available, to buy online or find other nearby stores where it’s in stock. Meanwhile, social location check-ins help the retailer send offers to its customers’ phones.

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31 - 35:

MPme, My Horse, NOW! Official UK Top 40 Chart, Paper Glider Crazy Copter 3D, Shazam Player
British company MPme was one of the winners of the Midemlab competition in January 2012, held as part of the Midem music industry conference to find the most innovative digital music startups. Its iPad app offers ‘curated radio’, analysing thousands of radio stations’ streams to help its users discover the ones that most closely match their music tastes. The station recommendations are based on the user’s music library, their previous listening habits and those of their friends if they connect with Facebook and Twitter. It’s wrapped in a slick tablet interface, and supports Apple’s AirPlay technology to stream radio to compatible hi-fis and speakers.

NOW! Official UK Top 40 Chart
Nestling at the top of Apple’s Top Free Apps chart in the UK this January was a familiar music brand: Now! That’s What I Call Music. Its app, launched by British startup Chartsnow.mobi, is far more than promotion for a CD or digital compilation though. This app downloads the entire UK Top 40 singles chart to the user’s smartphone, and then keeps it up to date every week when the new chart is announced. Users get a two-week free trial, but then pay a £1 weekly subscription. It’s a clever idea, and one that seems designed to appeal to younger people who may not be paying for digital music already. Links to the iTunes Store may even turn them into download buyers.

Paper Glider Crazy Copter 3D
Games developer Neon Play got its first 15 minutes of App Store fame when its Paper Glider became the 10 billionth download from Apple’s store in January 2011. The company has remained in the limelight since with a series of casual games. Paper Glider Crazy Copter 3D is the latest game in its flagship franchise, adopting a freemium business model with players paying in-game for virtual coins, level skips and stage unlockings. Its crips 3D graphics and easy-tograsp gameplay mechanics show how Apple’s iOS has become a fertile platform for the kind of casual games that might once have appeared only as Flash-based games on the web.

My Horse
Like Tag Games (see Funpark Friends), UK-based games publisher NaturalMotion has been investigating the potential of freemium gaming on iOS. Its first free-to-play title, My Horse, is a virtual pet game that features startlingly realistic horses. The gameplay mechanics are logical: a mixture of feeding, grooming and show-jumping. Social elements are baked in too, though: players can visit friends’ virtual stables to help out with their horses, and vice versa. NaturalMotion makes its money from sales of in-game gems and coins, although given the young audience attracted to a game about horses, it has taken care to take a non-aggressive approach to pushing this in-app content.

Shazam Player
Music identification service Shazam’s app has been downloaded more than 180m times, with another 1.5m downloads coming every week. However, as the main app diversifies into social TV features, Shazam has launched a standalone music player app for iPhone. The logically-named Shazam Player lets people listen to the music stored on their smartphone, while streaming in lyrics to display in real-time alongside the music. It also pulls in YouTube videos and tour dates. Shazam Player epitomises some of the innovation that’s going on around digital music, with apps that look to provide rich data and content around the music itself.

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36 - 40:

Six3 Video Messenger, Skulls by Simon Winchester, Sky Go, Songkick Concerts, Streetmuseum
Six3 Video Messenger
Six3 is a new app - it launched in beta in early January 2012 - which is aiming to disrupt video-calling services like Skype, Tango and Apple’s FaceTime. Not that it’s a direct competitor: rather than live video-calls, it’s more about synchronous video messages. Users can record short (up to 63 seconds) video clips to send to friends, whether they’re on smartphones, PCs or Macs. Recipients can then record their own messages and fire them back across the network at a time of their choosing. The company has big ambitions to take its app to other devices, including games consoles and connected TVs, but its current mobile app is a good start.

Sky Go
Alongside the BBC’s iPlayer, BSkyB’s Sky Go application is an impressive early attempt at capitalising on TV viewers’ desire to watch their favourite programmes on a variety of devices. As with iPlayer, Sky Go focuses on a mixture of on-demand and live content. Existing Sky subscribers get free access to the app on two devices, able to choose from hundreds of films to watch ondemand. However, switch to the live TV mode, and there is a choice of Sky’s film and sports channels streaming over 3G or Wi-Fi, although naturally the latter is recommended for best performance.

Songkick Concerts
London live music firm Songkick is one of the leading lights of the Shoreditch startup scene, and its iPhone app has been a big hit with concertgoers, generating more than 100,000 downloads in its first two weeks on the App Store. The app scans users’ iPhone music library, then tells them which of the artists whose music they own are playing gigs in their town in the coming months. When new concerts are announced, meanwhile, it uses the iOS push notifications feature to alert them - often enabling them to buy tickets ahead of the crowds. The only downside, for now, is that the mobile websites of Songkick’s ticketing partners don’t always match up to its app’s fine design.

Skulls by Simon Winchester
British firm Touch Press has set the bar high for original book-apps on Apple’s iPad, starting at the launch of the first device with its The Elements. Since then a string of apps have showed off beautiful photography and intuitive touchscreen navigation. Skulls is the latest, presenting a lovingly-photographed collection of more than 300 animal skulls, with commentary from author Simon Winchester. The rotation and zooming controls are beautifully done, while like many Touch Press apps before it, Skulls links to the Wolfram Alpha database to bring up data on the items. It may sound niche, but Skulls is a glimpse at an exciting future for digital books.

Streetmuseum: Dickens’ Dark London
It’s fitting that in the year of the 200th anniversary of author Charles Dickens’ birth, there’s an innovative location-based app encouraging iPhone owners to wander the streets of London in his footsteps. Developed by London creative agency Brothers and Sisters for the Museum of London, the app presents a series of graphic novels based on Dickens’ ‘Sketches by Boz’, with voice narration provided by actor Mark Strong. The tales are plotted on an 1862 map of London, meaning readers/ users can explore the real-world locations described in the stories.

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41 - 45:

Take Me Out Flirting, Tap!, Tesco Groceries, The Walking Dead, The Week UK
Magazine publisher Future has been making hay from Apple’s iOS Newsstand service, generating 10m downloads of its 65 magazine apps, including 430,000 digital issue sales within them. However, Tap! may be its most innovative idea so far: a magazine about the iPad and its apps, launched as an iPad app, as well as a print edition. The content is very good, but it’s the way Tap! is made that is most interesting: it uses a platform created in-house at Future that enables magazines to be created on the iPad itself.

The Walking Dead - Walkers Kill Count
Fox International Channels’ second-screen app for its zombie drama The Walking Dead is playful and fun: focused on providing an entertaining diversion for fans rather than any overt commercial goals. It’s designed to be used while watching the current second series of the show. “Predict the number of Walker kills, who did the most dirty work and what brutal weapon ended their life,” explains its App Store listing. The app synchronises with the show to analyse how successful those predictions were, and cleverly, can be used while watching live, or on catchup TV.

Take Me Out Flirting
On one level, Take Me Out Flirting is another second-screen app for a popular TV programme: ITV dating show Take Me Out in this case. It includes backstage photos and ‘Paddyisms’ (quotes from the show’s presenter). However, the app is actually the work of UK firm Handmade Mobile, which is behind mobile dating service Flirtomatic, which has more than 5m members. The Take Me Out Flirting app is essentially a TV-branded version of Flirtomatic - a fully-fledged mobile dating network in its own right, but backed by a primetime entertainment brand.

An iPad app-mag about iPad apps, created using an iPad app? It’s enough to make your head spin, or at least to admire the creative disruption happening in the UK magazine industry.

The Week UK Tesco Groceries
British supermarket chain Tesco made waves back in August 2010 when it launched an app for Nokia smartphones before iPhone an unusual decision at the time. It has since been rolled out to Apple and Android devices, though. Designed by Brighton agency Ribot, the app is an excellent reference for the current state of mobile shopping. Users can shop for groceries from the app as if using the Tesco website, adding and removing products, booking delivery slots and checking out. However, it can also be used in-store - see also the Miss Selfridge app - to scan products to add them to an online order. British magazine publisher Dennis Publishing’s The Week has been a big success as a subscription-based print magazine rounding up the last seven days’ news. Its digital edition is a welldesigned translation of the publication to iPad. That means a digital version of the weekly issue - much like The Guardian’s iPad app - using Apple’s Newsstand system to charge a £19.99 quarterly subscription. Dennis isn’t just relying on a single weekly update though: the app includes a Daily Briefing with stories throughout the week, to keep readers snacking on news bites.

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46 - 50:

This Day In Bob Dylan, Tinga Tinga Tales, Touchnote Postcards, Whale Trail, Zeebox
This Day In Bob Dylan
London firm This Day In Music Apps has been applying its engine to a series of veteran artists - so far Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd have got the ‘This Day In’ treatment, as well as Bob Dylan. Each app is based around a calendar navigation system, showing facts, set lists and recording dates for every day of the year. They also function as digital discographies, with song notes on each artist’s back catalogue highlights - 130 songs from 12 albums in Dylan’s case. The app also plays songs stored in the user’s iPhone music library, and connects to Apple’s iTunes store as an option to buy the ones they don’t own already.

Whale Trail
London studio ustwo wasn’t a games developer before 2011, but the company ploughed its heart and soul (and, famously, £150,000 of development budget) into its first game Whale Trail.

Touchnote Postcards
Startup Touchnote has been around for a few years now with its core idea of turning people’s mobile camera photographs into printed postcards. 2011 saw the company take its app to new platforms, including Windows Phone and Android tablets. The app works by uploading users’ photos, and printing them as 4.5x6inch physical postcards, sent by Touchnote to whatever address is entered by the user, along with their message. Each postcard costs £1.49, with 1-4-day delivery times promised in the UK, US and Germany. Perhaps the most ringing endorsement of Touchnote’s service, though, came when Apple chose to launch its own iOS competitor, Cards.

The title won critical acclaim from reviewers and Apple alike - it received a global Game Of The Week promotion on the App Store - for its dreamlike gameplay as a whale called Willow swooped through the clouds. The game sold well before making the transition to Android, and integrating in-app purchases as ustwo showed its business model was flexible.

Tinga Tinga Tales
British games publisher P2 Games is carving out quite a niche for itself licensing well-known children’s TV brands and turning them into accessible iOS games. Tinga Tinga Tales follows its efforts with brands including Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam and Postman Pat SDS. Aimed at an audience of 3-6 year-olds, the Tinga Tinga app offers a collection of nine mini-games based around the colourful cartoon characters in the show, with three difficulty levels to cater for different ages and abilities. There are thousands of apps aimed at kids in 2012, and many of them are poorquality. Thankfully, P2 Games is establishing itself as a mark of quality for parents.

Zeebox is one of the most talked-about mobile startups in the UK, with its social TV app providing a way for people to track social media buzz around the shows they’re watching in real-time. The Zeebox app also serves up contextual information - ‘Zeetags’ - around shows while they air, while the company is looking to work with broadcasters and producers to offer additional content based on a show’s characters and plotlines. The Zeebox app doubles as a remote-control for connected TVs, and has shown itself to be enough of a potential disruption in the market to attract investment from BSkyB in January 2012.

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About the appside
The Appside makes sense of the apps world for brands and entertainment companies. We believe there is a need for more accurate business intelligence in the apps market, to help companies decide how to invest, and which developers to work with. The Appside is currently delivered through a daily news bulletin, as well as a website. Our main areas of coverage are publishing, music, games, TV and film, brands and social. We will also be running events focused on specific verticals throughout 2012. Our first event focuses on music apps, and takes place in London on 6 March. For more information and tickets, go here: http:// tinyurl.com/appside1

About the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network
Government and industry worked together to set up Knowledge Transfer Networks which offer businesses and academia invaluable opportunities to connect and catalyse to enable new technologies to be realised. The ICT Knowledge Transfer Network (ICT KTN) was established by an industry-led group of key players in the sector. It is funded by the Technology Strategy Board, which is an executive non departmental public body (NDPB), established by the UK Government in 2007 and sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The ICT KTN facilitates knowledge exchange within the ICT segment and adjacent sectors, acting as a catalyst to accelerating innovation and focuses on fixed and mobile communications, IT networks and broadcasting: • Spanning the entire value chain of vital components including, equipment manufacturers, solution providers, system integrators, network operators, service providers, component manufacturers, application developers, broadcasters and universities. • Operating as a Network-of-Networks, working through other networks, support

organisations and communities of interest. • Working closely with other sectors such as transport, education, health, energy and the environment - for which ICT are transformational technologies. Visit www.ictktn.org.uk for more information. Membership is free.

Contact us:
ICT KTN Russell Square House 10 – 12 Russell Square London WC1B 5EE, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7331 2056 Email: info@ictktn.org.uk

Contact us:
Web: www.theappside.com Email: info@theappside.com

Page 15 | Best of British: 50 Innovation UK Apps

About UK Trade & Investment
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the UK government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy and assists overseas firms to bring their high quality investment to the UK. Every year, through our extensive network of specialists in British Embassies and other offices around the world, UKTI helps thousands of firms, from hi-tech start-ups to industry leaders, discover and further global growth. At MWC, UKTI has in-market commercial advisers from the following countries available to meet with you: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Finland, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain and the USA.

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If you’re an international company, we can provide you with information about or access to UK partners for potential future collaboration. We can also provide advice and assistance about the advantages of the UK as a business location. We invite you to attend our thoughtleadership seminars (Sala Principe) at MWC, and view cutting-edge technology demonstrations on our showcase stand.

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