This post continues our inquiry into the use of technology during the pandemic and after it is over.
In 2020, we tried to predict post-pandemic business ideas that could become a permanent part of our lives. It is still not clear how that prediction will play out because the pandemic is still far from over. But so much has happened in the world of tech startups that the midway results are worth looking at.
We have selected ten technology applications that either would have not emerged, or would have stayed under the radar for years but for covid.
Covid-Inspired Technology Trends
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about the pandemic? It’s likely WFH, homeschooling, conference calls and the loneliness of your four walls (or the stress of balancing family and work in one place). Global problems like those have kept techpreneurs busy lately.
We took a closer look at the latest tech trends and found they reflected the following concerns:
- Building on the success of the most successful applications, such as Zoom
- Improving the sense of connection between people online
- Allowing people to discover the world from home
- Helping people adopt WFH
- Keeping bodies healthy when people do not move around as much as they used to
- Taking care of people’s mental health through the uncertain times
- Improving homeschooling
- Transforming businesses digitally
- Containing the virus
Now let’s look at the most interesting use cases for those trends.
Top Picks for the Use of Technology During the Pandemic
This app allows you to play with your background on Zoom and create interactive video presentations live.
Zoom conferences can be exhausting at times. Business calls and chatting with friends may begin to feel the same. Pitching your startup in a way that doesn’t put investors to sleep requires a lot of creativity. Setting up a Zoom background that doesn’t distract but livens up your online party can drain energy, too.
Former CEO of Evernote Phil Libin had enough of that and decided to create Mmhmm, an app designed to make Zoom conferences much more fun. First of all, it allows users to change their background, choosing from over 100 virtual settings. Those include things like a hip office, a night city, a haunted house, dynamic colors and geometric figures, and more.
On top of the background, in a corner, you can show your Instagram photos, live streams, graphs — all kinds of media. You can also make the image of yourself smaller and move it to any part of the screen (e.g. a graph) to talk about or emphasise that part of the screen.
Mmhmm is a good demonstration of how you can ethically capitalize on the success of others. Perhaps you have been thinking of taking the same path with TikTok or a similar app. If so, you are likely to need software developers, and we can give you some of the best ones. Just ask.
The app Scener makes you feel more connected as you watch TV shows and films together while physically apart.
The lockdown has changed the idea of Netflix with friends. Although technology cannot replace physical presence, we can use apps to chat about the content we watch.
Seattle-based startup Scener set out to reimagine how we do that. They created a platform where you can host a watch party allowing everyone to appear on screen and chat using voice or text. The platform also allows you to tap into Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and HBO Max.
(If you are familiar with the gaming streaming app Twitch, you get the idea.)
Scener was founded in 2018, but it was the use of technology during the pandemic that really gave it a boost. In 2020, the startup raised $2.1 million, grew its viewer base to over 1 million viewers and reached 14 million weekly viewing minutes.
The WindowSwap website allows you to share your window view with everyone and look outside through other people’s windows.
We’ve all been a little tired of the same window view while confined to our homes. Yes, many museums and national parks have offered virtual tours, but you might occasionally want some of the immediate realism that others in faraway places experience every day. Or maybe you want them to experience yours.
You can do so with WindowSwap. Choose a random window and get ready to explore the world. You might come across a curly puppy watching the rain in South Korea, ships in the Port of Amsterdam or a green lawn somewhere in Ireland. All streams come with sound, which you can mute.
WindowSwap is free to use but has a “Support Us” section on the website where you can donate. Perhaps it’s validating a minimum viable product (MVP), angling to become the new Airbnb? We have built many such MVPs and could build one for you — just message us.
With the Dark Noise app, you can switch off from the buzz of your home to focus on work.
Distractions are like landmines when you work from home, especially if you live with others. It is easy to react to something that does not require your immediate attention when you are working on a boring, focus-demanding task. And when you do so, you may launch a chain reaction.
Dark Noise suggests a simple solution: background ambient noise in your headphones. A clear design, a rich variety of sounds and deep integrations with iOS alongside affordable pricing make this app stand out.
Isn’t this an elegant use of technology in today’s pandemic?
This app will keep you moving when you don’t need to go anywhere.
Lying all day in your bed with a notebook. You might have dreamed of a working day like that when you had to get up early, meet with people during the day and travel to the office and then back home. But after that dream had come true, it might’ve taken only a few days for you to realize your body doesn’t like it so much.
Wakeout was built to bring back movement into your life. The app will remind you to exercise during the day and suggest 30-second to 2.5-minute workouts designed to energize, relax, challenge or be fun. We are talking about home exercise, but Wakeout also has workouts designed specifically for other settings, such as the workplace and outdoors.
In 2020, Apple named Wakeout the Best iPhone App of the Year.
Fantastical helps you manage your Zoom events on your Mac or iPhone.
When all your interactions move to Zoom, it is easy to get lost. But what if you could create and receive event invitations and attach your conferences to them? Fantastical was made precisely for that reason.
Using Fantastical, you can sign into your Zoom account and set up events and meetings. Meeting information like phone numbers, URL and password will be in the event notes.
It seems an unremarkable use of technology amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but Fantastical has been named the Mac App of the Year by Apple.
Like Dark Noise, Endel uses soundscapes to take you to another dimension.
The main difference is that Endel focuses on different moods rather than sound types. Its Relax Mode, for example, provides an audio background to help you with stress relief, while On-the-Go Mode energizes you as you are getting things done.
Endel uses smart algorithms to adjust the soundscape to your current conditions, such as your heart rate, time zone, weather and location. It also integrates with Apple’s Health app to further personalize your experience. A prominent example of how technology helps us through the pandemic, Endel won the official title of the Apple Watch App of the Year in 2020.
Do you think apps like Endel actually help us cope with stress? If you have a better idea of how technology can be used for that, tell us and we will help you turn it into a product.
This app helps high-school and university students better understand school subjects.
If you are a parent, you’re well aware of the pain of homeschooling. You might not remember most things your kids are learning and you might not have enough time to help them sort those out. And teachers struggle with remote education, too.
Luckily, there is an app for that. Launched in 2017, Socratic was acquired by Google in 2019 and rebuilt in 2020. The app uses Google AI to find resources that can help you make sense of Algebra, Chemistry, Physics, History, Literature and other school subjects. And Socrates is not just a Google Search app. All sources have been vetted by teachers and experts.
Danube Online’s Corporate App
The large Saudi food retail chain Danube Online has built an app helping it limit the spread of COVID-19 among employees.
Food delivery has become the new norm through the pandemic. The more people purchase online, the more packers are needed in the same warehouse. And the more people there are in one place, the easier the virus spreads.
Danube Online has tackled this challenge using artificial intelligence (AI). It’s developed a smart app using aisle-mapping technology to help packers quickly track items ordered online across the store. What’s more, the app shows packers routes so they don’t cross paths with their colleagues, thus dodging the virus.
Hopefully, we won’t need apps helping us socially distance in the nearest future. Perhaps you have an app idea for that future? Get in touch with Rubyroid Labs, and we will tackle the software development part of it.
Cheeky Food Events
Cheeky Food Events is not an app but an Australian company that has seen the role of technology in the COVID-19 situation save the business.
Before the pandemic, Cheeky Food Events would arrange get-togethers for corporate clients where their employees bonded through cooking. Had the company not taken advantage of digital transformation, the lockdown would have devastated it.
Cheeky Food Events married food delivery, online streaming and cooking. Participants of their events now get ingredients dropped off at their doors and connect with each other and a professional cook via videolink. This simple solution has helped the business survive into 2021.
The impact of technology during the pandemic has been felt across the whole range of related issues. Some of the technology uses we have seen will outlive the pandemic, others will be tweaked, and the rest will follow Myspace.
Most importantly, COVID-19 has challenged us to toy with technology in ways previously unknown. And if it has inspired you to create a new application, website or service, we can help you write its code — just drop us a line.
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