Some WOW mobile apps from India

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Everyone knows the India mobile internet story. And what a story it is. India is expected to have 371M mobile internet users by June 2016, adding more than 100M users in 12 months (Source). That’s phenomenal growth by any standard. And because it’s happened so fast, the mobile app ecosystem has struggled to keep up. For the last 2 years, we witnessed several debates on mobile app Vs m-site and saw some very sub-standard mobile apps coming out of the country. But, happily, we are finally starting to see some people who truly get that the mobile screen is not just a smaller laptop screen (face-palm). That the way people consume content on mobile is vastly different from how they browse online. And hence, the approach to mobile needs to be a radical one.

Although I’m a prolific consumer of mobile content, I’m no authority on the subject. But I’ve seen some great mobile apps come out of India’s start-up ecosystem recently, and wanted to call those out. Here are some of my favourites, in no particular order:

  1. Hopscotch

These guys got it right quite early on. They are a time-bound boutique product company, with a large focus on kids’ stuff. Theirs is a no-frills app without too many icons to distract you. The app demonstrates a great understanding of the customer – there are 2 ways their customers would search for products on the app, and icons for those are centerstage. Of course, the clean UI adds to the appeal. And the recent changes of introducing larger images and improving the scroll experience only add to their advantage.

Interestingly, they have a less-than-brilliant website. But I suppose they realized that themselves because as I write this, I see that the site has been taken down and there is a “coming soon” message there. Aha.

2. Myntra

Myntra is one of the largest fashion portals of India. There was a lot of hue and cry when they decided to go app-only. Time will tell how that worked out for them. If it doesn’t, it won’t be for lack of a quality app. I think these guys have done a phenomenal job of analyzing data consumption on mobile and then creating an experience to match. I say experience because it really is that. You’re not just shopping for products, although you can do that easily. You’re reading a magazine. Trends, fashion updates, brand updates, latest collections, new products, blog posts etc. Great visuals add to the appeal and it’s everything you would expect from fashion on your phone. Two thumbs up.

3. Urban Ladder

Another e-commerce start-up that “gets” mobile. Although, these guys took a bit of time to get there. But get there they did. As a company, I consider Urban Ladder one that holds good, clean design in high esteem and this shows in everything they do. The app is no exception. Good creatives, along with a magazine-style approach to browsing makes this an app that would see a lot of repeat traffic with high session durations. I did find it a little too cluttered in places, but I expect they will iron this stuff out eventually.

4. Swiggy

The boom and bust of the food-tech bubble in India has kept Swiggy in the news a lot lately as it is one of the few that survived the ride, so far. Theirs is an app that is very basic and functional. And that’s the reason it is on this list – it works. Not every app needs to be a creative and visual array that overwhelms the user. The Swiggy user is hungry and just wants to order food quickly. The app helps him/her do just that. They should probably add an easy access menu for different cuisines, but even without that, it does the job.

5. Cleartrip

Cleartrip is one of the stalwarts of clean, functional design and digital workflow in the country. I know their awesomeness is done to death already, but no list of good mobile apps from India can be complete without a mention of the Cleartrip app. They brought a paradigm shift in the mobile travel experience, focused on what was important and displayed an understanding of mobile that was way ahead of its time. Now better apps have come in since then, but Cleartrip remains a great app.

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