The Year in Apps

Apps have matured. We’re used to having them in our lives and trust their advice. We look to them for dating advice, learning new languages—even therapy and overcoming grief.

Here’s a collection of apps that made our lives easier or otherwise just seemed too weird to not notice.


Duolingo is the perfect language learning app for the gamer generation. Duolingo turns learning new languages into a game. Instead of dry lectures on conjugations and tenses, Duolingo presents information with quizzes and games.



The WittyThumbs team reads your text conversations and discerns the real meaning of incoming messages and suggests effective replies. It’s like having a panel of tech-savvy Cyrano de Bergeracs peering over your shoulder as you text.

Saving the World


What if saving the planet was less of a chore and more like a video game? While it takes teaching urgent truths about global warming seriously, Greenie puts people’s competitive impulses to use saving the planet. Greenie provides valuable tips on how average citizens can change their daily lives to combat climate change. But it also pits its users against each other in a competition of who can be the most green.

Hack Your Life

If This Then That
IFTTT is a simple idea that could revolutionize our digital lives. Or at least the way you program your daily schedule. IFTTT allows you to automate almost anything on your phone using if/and terms. You program the app with simple “recipes,” saying that if one thing happens, it should do something else.

Mental Health

Woebot is a foray into Freudian Futurism. The automated therapist listens to the emotional outpouring of social media addicts. Woebot promises to be ready to “listen, 24/7” without needing couches, meds or delving into childhood memories. Instead of probing into past trauma, it offers strategies to improve your mood and “the occasional dorky joke.” Woebot monitors mood by tracking daily conversations with the bot on Facebook Messenger, curated Woebot videos and word games. Woebot checks in once a day to “see where your head’s at.”

Advances in Necromancy

Replika started as a way to communicate with the dead. The chatbot was meant to be an AI capable of mimicking a person’s texting style mimic through chat.