Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something
June 4, 2019 7:49 AM   Subscribe

There are millions of mobile applications available to smartphone users today, and that number will only keep growing as it becomes easier to build and deploy apps. Some apps are for amusement, but others are specifically designed to improve the lives of their users or the world at large.

We asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following question about some of the most innovative apps they’ve encountered that were created to help people: What’s one innovative app you‘ve seen that’s designed to help people, and what can leaders learn from apps like it?

Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is an app that provides blind and low-vision people with visual assistance by connecting them with volunteers and company representatives.

Charity Miles
Charity Miles is an app that motivates you to hit your fitness goals by donating money to your favorite charity. For every mile that you run, walk or bike, you earn money from corporate sponsors that is then donated to the charity of your choice.

Chummy aims to make the world better by paying it forward. Users can request help for everything from moving furniture to finding a lost pet.

Aaptiv is a fitness app that has thousands of workouts involving activities like running, using the elliptical and strength training. When you start your workout session, the trainer will give you the exercises to perform via audio.

The Pacifica app provides a way for people to deal with daily anxiety and stress. It provides audio lessons to help deal with stress, mood trackers and mindfulness meditations.

Speak & Translate
Speak & Translate is an amazing app that allows you to communicate verbally with people who speak different languages.

Voice Access
Voice Access is a new Android accessibility app from Google. It helps people with limited mobility navigate their phones by voice, helping them with opening apps, scrolling, editing text and other common interactions.

Samaritan gives you the stories behind some of the homeless people you may see every day and allows you to donate money ($1 or more). These funds go toward needed services and expenses like clothing, groceries or gas.

Red Stripe
Red Stripe is an app for people with red-green colorblindness. It uses a smartphone camera to identify these colors and highlights them on the screen with stripe patterns.
(The Budge app mentioned in the article no longer exists.)
posted by Johnny Wallflower (5 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I've been able to respond to two calls on Be My Eyes, and it's so cool.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:50 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

My cousin, blind since the incubator, loves an app that sounds like Be My Eyes. It allows her to walk dogless in public and get to the teller or hotel check in desk or tell parsnips from carrots.
posted by wmo at 8:09 AM on June 4

I’m a Be My Eyes sighted volunteer. I get the biggest rush when I’m able to answer a call and help! I’ve helped a gentleman set a clothes dryer, another gentleman set a thermostat, and also helped a gentleman read some text on a computer screen. So cool!
posted by bookmammal at 8:35 AM on June 4 [5 favorites]

I'm happy to know about this list. Thanks!

A lot of projects that fall into this category give me pause. I'm always torn between wanting to see these things succeed, both because they're useful and because they generate press about things that people who design software don't normally think about and wanting to point out that there are often much easier approaches that don't involve smart phones. Be my eyes and Red stripe seem unambiguously useful and good, and more translation software is always fantastic.

Even though I probably agree with 98% of the designer's goals, Samaritan seems a bit odd. It's not hard to talk to the homeless or to give them cash. It takes a few seconds and a tiny bit of attention. We don't need an ap for that. We don't need to pay someone to design an ap for that. We certainly don't need to require that people who participate "meet monthly with a counselor to keep your beacon active, plan your month ahead, and access even greater opportunities."
posted by eotvos at 9:06 AM on June 4 [5 favorites]

Yeah Samaritan kinda freaks me out.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:23 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]

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