December 28 is National Download Day. Once slow and cumbersome, smartphones have become a ubiquitous part of our lives. It’s hard to imagine going anywhere without our phones, which now also serve as cameras, maps, guidebooks, banks, personal assistants, and entertainment centers.
Most of these extra functions are accessed through downloadable apps — programs designed for mobile phones that streamline specific functions. You can find thousands of free and paid apps for your mobile device including productivity boosters, games, photo editing software, and shopping apps. You can even connect apps to wearable technology to monitor your heart rate, distance walked, and more.
History of National Download Day
Modern cell phones are less phones and more tiny, portable computers. In fact, when’s the last time you actually made a phone call on your mobile device? Most of our screen time is spent on apps — software designed for smartphones that lets us do everything from play games to make banking transactions.
The first cell phones were just that: phones. Early mobile users had to charge their phones for about 10 hours, and were limited to 30 minutes of phone calls a day. These rudimentary devices didn’t have the power or battery life to handle more complex tasks.
Needless to say, our screen time has gone up a bit since those days. Today, the average mobile phone user has 60 to 90 apps installed on their phone.
When mobile phones got smaller and more powerful, they began their transition from a phone and messaging device to a pocket computer that can do everything your PC can. Apple’s iPhone arguably ushered in a new era for apps, as its large, multi-touch display, digital keyboard, and fully functional web browser opened up new possibilities for what can be done on a phone.
In addition to the iPhone, Apple also changed the game when the App Store, a one-stop shop for digital apps, went online in 2008. In 2010, the American Dialect Society named “app” its word of the year, acknowledging how embedded it had become in American culture.
Today, one in five people around the world has a smartphone, and 85% of users say they prefer their mobile devices to desktop computers.
National Download Day timeline
- June 2007
The iPhone Changes Everything
Apple releases the first iPhone, kicking off a new era in mobile devices and revolutionizing our relationship to cell phones.
Palm Invents the Digital Assistant
Palm Inc. introduces the first "personal digital assistant," later known as the Palm Pilot.
IBM launches the first smartphone, which includes a contacts list, calendar, and calculator.
- April 3, 1973
First Mobile Phone Call
Martin Cooper of Motorola makes the first mobile phone call using a device weighing almost 2.5 pounds.
National Download Day - Survey Results
National Download Day FAQs
What National Day is December 28th?
On December 28, we celebrate National Download Day, National Chocolate Candy Day, and National Call a Friend Day.
Why do apps have ads?
App development and maintenance costs money. Free apps in particular have to raise revenue through advertising to provide free services to their users. Most apps offer paid ad-free versions.
Why should I use an app rather than a mobile website?
Because they’re streamlined for a device’s specific operating system, a mobile app can be faster, more personalized, and more intuitive than a mobile website. Apps offer more freedom in design, branding, notification options, and other powerful interactive functions.
National Download Day Activities
Download some apps
Did you know you can use apps to stream live music, track airplane flight paths, or monitor how much water you drink? Take a look at today’s most popular downloads and you’ll find an app that does just what you need.
Try your hand at programming
If you want to try creating your own app, app-building tools like TheAppBuilder, Appery.io, Appy Pie, or many others will help you plan and design an app with little to no programming knowledge required.
Use an app to learn a new skill
Have you always wanted to learn a foreign language or master a new hobby, but don’t have the time to go take a class? Apps aren’t all games and social media. Many apps out there will help you learn or practice new skills from home and on the go.
5 Fascinating Facts About Smartphones
Your fridge is watching
A smartphone-enabled fridge can monitor temperature, help you make shopping lists, and stream your favorite shows in the kitchen.
The most downloaded app of all time: Facebook.
Digital whoopee cushions
Shortly after the App Store's launch in 2008, fart noise apps became some of the most popular downloads in the store.
The Android Play Store has almost 3 million apps available for download.
Almost two-thirds of apps in the Apple App Store have never been downloaded.
Why We Love National Download Day
It’s a fun excuse to try a new game or app
Celebrate the day by downloading a new game(or two) and start a tournament with your friends.
Apps can make us better
Apps aren’t just for gamers. We can use them to boost our productivity, connect with family across the world, manage our diet and exercise plans, and work on creative projects.
Apps are cheap
Compared to video game consoles, apps offer a lot of gaming for very little money. Forget spending hundreds of dollars on a console and games. Download some games for free and play on your phone now!
National Download Day dates