Socially aware smartphones — Apps that make your world a better place

Smartphones can do more than simplify our lives, they can help make the world a better place. Now that we are able to be instantly, continuously connected we have more opportunities to network and share. While many apps are focused on providing a service, or selling a product, there are a whole class of apps that promote sharing and community. We rounded up 5 great apps designed to make things better.

A lot of food goes to waste, and a lot of people need food. This free app was designed to bridge the gap between people who have something to share and those who are able to use it. Olio connects neighbours with each other, and with local businesses, in order to share food. The idea is that if you’re going away for the holidays, say, you can log on and let people know you have food that would otherwise go to waste; or that you’ve hosted a big dinner and have more leftovers than you can use. Businesses like bakers or greengrocers can use it to share food that is nearing the end of its shelf life. You can even share non-food items.

This clever app is a great way to teach children about caring for the environment. You plant and tend virtual trees in the app, and real-life trees are planted to mirror the digital ones. In the game, you fertilise, water and defend your tree from loggers — mirroring the actions that are taken to care for its living counterpart. The Korean company behind Tree Planet 2 claims to have planted 500,000 real trees in 10 different countries.

You might be familiar with classifieds like Wallapop or Milanuncios, but where do you turn when you just want to borrow or share? Peerby is an app that encourages local sharing by combining a search engine with a local social network. If you need to borrow some tools, or outdoor gear, or whatever, you send a request to the Peerby community. If someone has the item you need you can connect with them via chat and arrange to borrow it. This is also a great way to share things that might otherwise take up space in your home!

Pay It Forward is a world-wide movement that encourages people to do small acts of kindness to help other people. Lots of us like that idea but struggle to know how we can help others on a day-to-day basis so this app sends daily suggestions for ways you can engage with and encourage those around you. It has a fun feature that shows a map of the world where the most good deeds are taking place.

This app is for anyone who needs to get something off their chest. It is a free app you can use anonymously, if you choose, to talk about whatever problems or stresses you are facing. It offers a safe forum to share your experiences and support other people who are going through a tough time. We all need someone to talk to sometimes, and this makes that accessible.

Have a tip for a socially conscious app? Share in the comments!

About Cila Warncke

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