A woman's touch. Many apps have been created by women. Photo: Justin Sullivan
"There’s an app for that" is now an overused catch cry. The rise of the smartphone has been accompanied by a surge in apps to do everything from tracking grocery purchases to locating the nearest public loo.
Apple alone has clocked more than 1.2 million apps and 75 billion user downloads from its App Store worldwide, while Google Play lists 1.3 million apps. Most of those, people assume, were built by men. But for women, who’ve long been a minority group in the tech sector, the apps market is proving fertile, according to Miriam Hochwald, founder of Girl Geek Coffees, a networking group. "It’s a more open market – there’s the capacity to bring multidisciplinary skills and that is attractive, because you don’t have to be a full-on geek,” Hochwald says.
Crowded market notwithstanding, IT Pro meets five Australian women who found there "wasn’t an app for that" and decided to create their own.
Amber Blumanis Photo: Supplied
Amber Blumanis – Stopover
A 14-hour layover at Ho Chi Minh airport en route home from a backpacking holiday in Europe in 2012 inspired marketing graduate Amber Blumanis to develop an app to relieve transit tedium. The Stopover app allows users to create a profile detailing their interests, which can be used to connect with like-minded travellers for coffee, business networking, foreign language practice or a play date.
“I came up with it because I wanted it,” Blumanis says. “You can see who’s nearby and check out their profile.”
Only available on iOS, the app has been downloaded a modest 500 times since its June launch, but earlier this month landed its 23-year old creator a Rising Star gong at the 2014 Talent Unleashed Awards, judged by, among others, Virgin's Richard Branson and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Jennifer Roberts Photo: Supplied
Jennifer Roberts – Picture Postie
Love being able to take snaps on your phone but find it’s a hassle getting them printed off? So did enterprising ex-marketeer Jennifer Roberts, 36, who decided she definitely needed an app for that.
The result was Picture Postie – an app that enables users to order prints and photo products from their phone, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr albums and have them delivered to the door. Photos are printed in Melbourne and distributed worldwide. Launched in January last year, the app has clocked 100,000 downloads and orders are going gangbusters, according to Roberts.
“Hundreds of orders a week is now hundreds of orders a day – we love printing people’s pics!”
Tara O’Connell with Alexi. Photo: Supplied
Tara O’Connell – The Baby Diaries
When her baby son was hospitalised in 2012, Newcastle mum Tara O’Connell looked for an app which could collate the medical details, developmental milestones and daily care details her sleep-deprived brain struggled to track.
"There were a few apps that did some of what I wanted but most were very expensive and Americanised – Mom, diaper,” O’Connell says. “I had kept all of these records in a notepad when my first son was born in 2001.”
Enter The Baby Diaries app – a repository for information about all things baby. Available in free and premium versions, it has been downloaded 3000 times by users as far afield as India, South America and New Caledonia.
Yvonne Ralph created the Deductibles app with her two daughters. Photo: Supplied
Yvonne Ralph – Deductibles
Groan at the thought of rifling through a shoebox full of receipts at tax time and trying to remember what they were for?
So did mother and daughters trio Yvonne Ralph, Amanda Lyons and Cassandra Flanagan. Their brainchild is Deductibles, an app which acts as a portable electronic filing system. It allows users to snap a photo of a receipt as it’s received, file it in the correct Australian Tax Office category and store it safely via the cloud for up to six years.
Launched a month ago, Ralph says it’s the first in a series of apps designed to make finances easier for Australians.
Molly Taylor Photo: Supplied
Molly Taylor – Infinite Wardrobe
Want to swap fashion ideas and trade clothes with other style mavens from the comfort of your iPhone? Founder of the Brisbane mobile apps consultancy Code Heroes Molly Taylor did.
Since the launch of her Infinite Wardrobe app – the second prize winner at this year’s Oz App Awards – she’s created a community of 8000 fellow fashionistas and their collections.
“There is no virtual currency or hidden costs, it’s completely free to buy and sell – think Pinterest with free trading,” Taylor says.