Apple's iPhone 4S boosted app downloads to new heights in 2011. An onslaught of new iPhone users, combined with iOS 5 updates, created a surge in app discovery this year, according to a new report from mobile marketing technology company Fiksu.
During November, iPhone app downloads surged 83 per cent over last year, the report said.
App downloads are expected to climb even higher as more consumers purchase the iPhone. Analysts predict as many as 30 million iPhones could be shipped in the first quarter of 2012.
As both new and old iPhone users look to fill their phones with new apps, here are five new or recently updated programs poised to make a big splash in 2012.
Google's new Currents application is an easy way to consume your favourite news sites and blogs in a touch-friendly way.
After you've signed into your Google account, the app will begin downloading content from a variety of preselected publications such as the Daily Beast and Fast Company. You can then add your own favorite publications from a variety of categories like business, design, entertainment and lifestyle. Currents also displays a list of trending top stories that you can swipe through.
While we liked Current's simplicity, we wish it had integration with social networks – as its rival Flipboard does – so we could see what our friends are reading.
Wenzani (Zulu for 'what are you doing?') is a new mobile travel guide that makes suggestions for places to eat, shop and bar-hop based on recommendations from friends, experts and other guide brands like Frommers and Lonely Planet.
Besides gaining access to expert recommendations, the app also has a social component. Our favourite feature: through Wenzani, you can ask friends for real-time travel recommendations via Facebook or Twitter ("What's a good Italian place in the financial district?"). Answers are then pushed instantly to your phone.
In the future, Wenzani's developers say that you'll be able to tailor your recommendations depending on the weather, time of year, etc. – for example, the app will eventually know not to suggest visiting a particular park if it's raining in the area.
Stamped is a new recommendation app – founded by former Google employees – designed to cut down on the clutter found through services like Yelp. Stamped's founders believe that users are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know rather than complete strangers.
Once you sign up for Stamped, you received 100 virtual stamps that you use to mark your approval on restaurants, books, music and TV shows. You can then find friends on the app to follow by connecting through Facebook and scanning through your address book. Users earn more points when their friends "like" what you recommend.
Stamped also lets you make reservations through OpenTable, buy movie tickets through Fandango and purchase books via Amazon.
We love Stamped's elegant and clean user interface, but wish it allowed you to sort through recommendations by category. As of now, our friends' reviews for Mission Impossible and grocery mecca Trader Joes' appear next to each other.
Flipboard is one of the most downloaded iPad apps since its launch last year, and its new iPhone app has been quickly gaining traction, too. Demand for the app was so high that it reportedly crashed the company's servers as more than 1 million users downloaded Flipboard in its first week.
Flipboard is a digital magazine personalized to your tastes and interests. In an aesthetically pleasing layout similar to what you see in a printed magazine, the app displays relevant links from your social networks (Twitter and Facebook) as well as other content you might like based on your categories of choice (i.e. business, style, travel, etc.). Flipboard gradually learns what you might be interested in viewing based on your reading history, tailoring the articles you see.
Once the app populates with links, you can "flip" to the next piece of content by swiping upwards.
We found Flipboard to be one of the best content viewing and sharing apps we've seen, though the app's focus on design lends itself better to the iPad's larger screen.
For former BlackBerry lovers who have ditched their phones in favor of the iPhone, Atari's new Breakout Boost game – a revamped version of BlackBerry's BrickBreaker game – is a must. This version features better graphics and several new twists, like the ability to control the speed of the level and to power up the ball.
The free version of the game has five levels – after that, you'll have to shell out 99 cents for the additional 200 levels.
One feature missing? Some old-school arcade music to groove to while playing.