Dubai: As 2015 exits, users are looking forward to practical apps that help them. New forms of social media such as Periscope, and productivity apps such as Workflow, were introduced this year and have taken their place in the established market place. As the job market gets tough and workload is increasing with lower income, users are starting to depend on apps that give a better experience from older ones. 2016 will likely see a steep progression in terms of app development, but these are the apps that rose to top in 2015.


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have developed a presence in the app market such as Khan Academy and Udacity. Khan academy is a free online educational app, with 63 courses that students can take which break off into further subgroups. The app is specifically for students in secondary schooling. Since many students travel abroad for a university education, students can use it to familiarise themselves with the American education system. Udacity is a tech focused MOOC that lets users learn about various tech development skills. The courses themselves are largely free and offer students the same experience as top tier universities.

Workflow and Reboard help different apps work together so users gain synergy. Helper apps are being popularised by users as they go beyond features included in original operating systems. Since these apps are developed by third party companies, there are no distractions on other developmental sections like major mobile companies.


Another category that is likely to see a rise next year is entertainment. As streaming apps gets a foothold in the UAE, there is expected (or at least hoped) to be a large influx of entertainment outlets expanding to the country such as Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Go.


Skype is still king in the area of communications. Many expats use Skype to communicate with loved ones back home, even though it is illegal in the UAE. The app has more than 250 million active users worldwide.

BBM has been a popular form of instant messaging since the release of the Charm 7100 in 2006. With Apple and Android releasing phones with better sales and features, Blackberry offered the messaging app for free on both operating systems. Even with the company in a slump, the app is proving resilient. Since the phones were popular in the Middle East, the messaging app has made a smooth transition to the other platforms.


Workflow is a personal automation tool, enables the user to drag and drop a combination of actions to give more options and link together apps on your mobile phone. Two or more apps can come together to create a new project with the functions of the original apps. Users can create home icons for contacts and can tweet songs that they are listening to. This app has the potential to change the way users approach work on phones. The app has a widget called Today Widget as well that has the basic operations of the app.

Reboard is a virtual keyboard that has buttons to access apps for instant use. It is a redefining look at a traditional keyboard, but has been developed for by a third party. The keyboard can be customised to suit the user’s need as well and predictive emoijs are a reason enough to buy the app. The main feature of the app is a customisable header line that displays app buttons which can be accessed seamlessly by one touch.

Microsoft has finally made their software Word, into an app. This version is slimmer than its brother on computers. The app is free and offers in app purchases with Office 365. The features included with Office 365 compatibility with other devices, and makes sharing documents easier with peers as well.

Social Media

Periscope is a new entry to the social media platform as users can livestream their lives to the world. Users can share their experiences on social media with Twitter integration, like Vine. The app has its similarities to snapchat where the user can broadcast the video for the next 24 hours.


Google Photos is a replacement of Picasa, the photo software from Google. The new apps allows better access to photos across multiple platform and is designed for better use on smartphones phones and tablets. Picasa’s layout and connectivity was just not up to par and the time had come for an update. The app is free and offers a number of features that elementary photo editing apps don’t. Some features include backing up of photos, which saves space, and instant sharing with contacts.

Enlight is a photo editing app that has streamlined the process into simple steps. The reason it has gained such popularity on the Apple App Store is because of the user-friendly interface and the complexity of a proper photo-editing software in a phone or tablet. Enlight offers a majority of photo editing options from spot removal to colour correction into a manageable editing app.


Anghami is a music app that lets the user listen to free music and finds songs from online archives like Shazam. However, Anghami has an added focus on Arabic songs, which makes it versatile for the GCC market. The app is free and lets the user buy in to a paid version which gives access to downloadable songs.

Pacemaker started off as a portable DJ device, the first of its kind in 2007. As the mobile world evolved, so did the company. The app has years of development background from its physical device.


FACTBOX: Middle East’s top apps of 2105

Google Play store

1. Skype

2. Google Photos

3. Anghami

4. Microsoft Word

5. BBM


Apple App Store

1. Enlight

2. Periscope

3. Pacemaker

4. Workflow

5. Reboard