While travelling in a cab the other day, I complimented the driver on the playlist during the trip. The classic Hindi tunes I was listening to was curated by the Apple Music app, the driver informed me. I should have known.

If there’s anything remotely possible on a mobile device, chances are there’s an app to take care of it. From ordering groceries to switching on lights; booking cabs to making video calls; paying utility bills to prepping for competitive exams; listening to music to watching movies apps—are everywhere. Simply put, apps have become an integral part of our lives.

However, the phenomenon isn’t that old. This fact was reiterated this week with Apple’s App Store—the oldest app store in the world—turning 10 on Tuesday. On July 10, 2008, Apple debuted the App Store with 500 apps.

“Today, customers in 155 countries are visiting the App Store more often, staying longer and downloading and using more apps than ever before,” Apple said in a release.

Among the 500 apps at launch, were eBay, The New York Times, and U.S. travel agency Travelocity—apps that are still around. And with customers in 155 countries visiting the app store regularly, it is no wonder that the App Store now sees 500 million weekly visitors, according to Apple.

But that’s just the App Store. Consider how it has acted as a catalyst. In 2012, Google launched the Play Store and if you just look around, you shall find how Android—arguably the world’s most popular operating system—has changed the lives of millions.

From booking cabs on Uber/Ola to the carpenter you found on UrbanClap, to listings on Justdial or the neighbourhood restaurants on Zomato, or the kirana stores on Amazon Prime Now—everyone in our developing economy seems geared towards the gig economy. What makes it possible? Apps and inexpensive Android phones.

A few friends I talked to said they had adopted a fitter lifestyle because of the apps on their phones and watches beckoning them to walk more, take the stairs, stand up, breathe deeply, or even take a break.

Let’s move on to the realm of education. From rhymes and games that teach toddlers the basics of maths and logical thinking to specialised courses such as Byju’s and Duolingo, this sector seems to have exploded in terms of apps. From dissecting frogs on an iPad on Froggipedia to learning about rivers and their currents on WWF Free Rivers—just like learning has no limits, there’s no dearth of apps to help with it.

And if we talk about the homegrown app Froggipedia, we’re definitely in the most exciting territory of augmented reality (AR). Using this technology, one can try on dresses and jewellery, decorate a room, design the interiors of a building, or study the workings of a heart up close, among other things. In fact, one can also have AR pets. Not to mention AR games such as Thomas and Friends Minis.

Plus, you also have virtual reality (VR), which you can experience on Android devices via a VR headset; and on other devices via expensive headsets such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Not to mention Sony’s solution for its popular gaming console, the PlayStation 4. This is possibly the next big thing in the sphere of entertainment.

But I digress. Apps and the App Store have also led to the evolution of mobile-first businesses, and also support so many developers who at last have an easy way to make money from their apps.

The ‘freemium’ model is a big takeaway from the development of the app ecosystem. This offers people like you and me a lot of choice—and a lot of free apps to make our lives more productive—by watching a few advertisements or putting up with pesky mailers.

So here’s wishing the App Store a very Happy Birthday and another 10 more exciting years.

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