Coffee Break

Can These Apps Change the World?


We talk a lot about how technology is changing the world. And when we talk about that technology, we’re usually talking specifically about gadgets. We talk about how mobile phones and social media make it easier than ever to connect with people all over the world. We talk about the amazing advances that have been made in the medical industry, with robotic nurses, laser surgery, and telemedicine all becoming more widespread over the last few years.

But it’s not all that often that we look a bit closer; we don’t spend a lot of time focussing on the software, as opposed to just the gadgets themselves. Which seems pretty odd, considering it’s the software that make these gadgets run the way they do, and allows us to actually use them!


But are there really that many applications out there that could do good for the world? The truth is that there is. And I’m not even talking about the software you use on your PC or Mac; I’m talking about the apps you use on your phone. When people think about phone apps, they don’t tend to think about apps that are particularly ethical or could change the world in any meaningful way. They tend to picture social media apps, dating apps, shopping apps. Many will simply think about games like Angry Birds – which, as anyone will assure you, certainly aren’t making that many improvements to the world we live in!

Sure, it’s true that most of the apps people use on their mobile phones are basically throwaway things that are just there for our own amusement, or to make other self-serving things slightly easier. But there are actually a bunch of apps out there that have the potential to do a lot go good. Some of them are still in fairly early development stages; some are out there and already making a bunch of difference.

We’re going to take a look at some of the most significant apps in this field. Consider downloading them to your phone and seeing if they can help you make a difference.



Memory loss is one of the scariest neurological problems that someone can suffer from. But not only are there ways to help people remember certain things using their smartphone or tablet, but there are also ways to significantly slow down the symptoms through similar means. The Prompt app offers not just reminders, notes, and diaries, but it also using photos and other visuals to help create links between people and events – a key element of memory that is often one of the first things to greatly suffer during memory loss.


A lot of people who are perfectly willing to vote don’t end up doing so due to various physical constraints. This seems strange in an age where mobile technology dominates, right? So how can we give people suffering from such problems a voice in elections? The Smartmatic app, which is in development and currently being tested in an unnamed country, will help more people vote with the use of technology that reads voter ID and uses facial recognition, as long as their phone is connected to the Internet.



Food banks are an extremely important part of our society, helping those in need get the food they require. But a lot of food banks run into stock problems on a frequent basis, and they generally rely largely on charitable donations. The Foodbank app is helping change in this area. Food banks can sign up to a database which will be present in the app’s workings. When a local food bank is running low on a particular commodity – and this can include toiletries as well as food – local users will be alerted to this, which can prompt people to make donations. It can also be used by those who need to use these food banks, because stock information is available in a wide variety of commodity categories.


How can we be more ethical about our purchases? There are so many companies out there who are extraordinarily unethical, either in their food production techniques, marketing tactics, or treatment of animals. But how do you know how ethical a particular company is when you’re interesting in buying a product? The GoodGuide app uses barcode scanning to return information about a particular company’s behavior, taking into account their impact on animals, the environment, neighborhoods, and more. If you don’t want to help fund companies who could be doing a lot of damage to society, then this app can help tremendously.