Maybe you forgot… but there was almost certainly a time when you were thrilled to download Evernote. (“You mean I can make a note on my phone and the same note will be instantly available on my computer?!”)

Today, the original release of Evernote… or Angry Birds… or Candy Crush… or whatever app got you hooked years ago… wouldn’t be all that impressive. We take them for granted.

Take just the other day for example, when Instagram launched face filters (a Snapchat clone in just about every possible way). Years ago, of course, this would have been revolutionary.

Now? Well, we’ve seen that before.

And yet you would think there would have been a little more buzz about Instagram – one of the top-downloaded free apps of all time – getting a massive augmented reality upgrade, right?

Oh, well.

The point is: apps have become such a powerful and pervasive part of our culture that it takes a lot to move us. But it wasn’t always that way, of course. A new infographic from Techahead walks us through the evolution of mobile apps.

For those of you asking about what features your app needs to have, this speedy overview of where we’ve been deserves a quick glance.

What We Learned About Apps…

Check out a few of the highlights, along with some of our own app-related findings…

  • 2008 taught us that people were hungry for apps. When the App Store went live with the release of OS 2.0 it had a modest offering of 500 apps. (Today there are 2.2 million apps in the App Store and 2.8 million apps in the Google Play Store – source.) Nevertheless, users completed more than 10 million downloads in the first three days of the App Store going live. Also interesting… Facebook was the most downloaded app in 2008, and it continues to hold that top slot today.
  • 2010 confirmed that our app-etite remained as strong as ever. In June, two months after the release of the iPad, the App Store sailed past the 5 billion downloads mark, with 11,000 apps optimized specifically for the iPad.
  • These days, social apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook appear on nearly everyone’s phone. While apps began as programs to entertain us and make life easier, they broadened to include a social aspect we now wouldn’t choose to live without. So, what’s next?

The Future of Apps

Our prediction is that the apps of the future will have an increasingly strong focus on augmented reality (AR), connecting our physical world seamlessly with the device in our hand. Lowe’s is one example of a company test-driving these ideas. With the Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app (still in beta, announced earlier this spring), users can follow AR arrows on their phone that render on screen as if they were painted on the floor of the Lowe’s store. By following these arrows, you can easily and quickly locate the in-store item you need.

While cool and interesting today, the Lowe’s app in a few years will probably look and feel to us like the apps of 2008… but that’s what makes the whole industry exciting, right?