Are you suffering from app fatigue?

Summary:If you own a smartphone, if you are not already suffering from app fatigue chances are you will at some point. App fatigue sets in over time as you collect a seemingly endless stream of apps.

If you own a smartphone, if you are not already suffering from app fatigue chances are you will at some point. App fatigue sets in over time as you collect a seemingly endless stream of apps that do the same thing. You end up spending far too much time scrolling through screens of apps to find the one you want. Eventually you pause and look at all of those app icons on the screen and realize you have a bunch of apps that do the exact same thing.

I am a heavy Twitter user; I am in the social network all day and frequently share things with my Twitterverse. It's not only fun, I often find very interesting things that would otherwise pass me by. I prefer working with Twitter on my smartphone, as I find mobile apps are better than the Twitter web site. That's why I have 5 Twitter apps on my Android phone right now.

App fatigue creeps up on you before you realize it, because it's human nature that drives it. Many apps are free or less than a buck, so it's hard to justify not trying a new one out when you hear about it. Never mind that you already have 5 Twitter apps on your smartphone, a new one just came out and someone said it was really good. So you spend time installing it and using it for a bit to see how it compares to that other app. Usually it has one or two features the other apps are missing, and you delight in finding it and feel ahead of the game.

But after a while you miss other features your old app has that the new one is missing, so eventually you return to your old favorite app. If it ended there app fatigue wouldn't be such a big deal, but you don't uninstall these apps you no longer use, you leave them on your phone taking up space. Why not, they were free, right?

Over time it becomes a time sink, as the developers of all of these unused apps keep adding features to get you to use them again. Your phone keeps telling you about these updates, and you stop what you're doing to apply them. Then you have to try them out to see if the update is just what you were looking for. The cycle starts anew, and often ends the same way with you casting the updated app aside, just like you did originally.

App fatigue can become a big waste of time, and certainly wastes precious device memory. These apps just sit there taking up space, waiting for the next update to get your attention once again. The obsession with these apps is not a sickness, but it's pretty darn close. The smart thing to do is keep using your favorite app of a particular type, and getting rid of all the others. You may even do that occasionally, but then a brand new app gets released. You just have to give it a try, just in case you might be missing something. And now you have a tablet alongside your smartphone and there's another mess of apps to try. Sigh.

Image credit: Flickr user Peat Bakke

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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