Can mobile apps make the world a better place?

Smartphones. Many people own them, and they’re amazing for keeping us on track with our own lives. But what if we could use them to benefit a cause greater than ourselves? Using just your smartphone it’s possible to raise the profile of charities, care for the environment and even assist scientists in finding cures for diseases. You could make the world a better place. Curious? Read on and join the movement.

Charities can reach the masses through social media

If you own a smartphone, chances are you have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account connected to your device. No doubt if so, you’ve seen waves of ice bucket challenges and no-makeup selfies take-over your social feed as friend after friend is nominated by their peers.

Of course, anyone with a laptop could get involved but its the convenience of a smartphone which helps to drive these charity campaigns to viral levels. Capturing the footage, uploading to social media and donating via text message can all be achieved through one smartphone. The whole process is super seamless, but does it actually make the world a better place?

If a charity gets it right, their name becomes the talking point of the masses. Mark Zuckerberg has stated the ALS ice bucket challenge received over 10 billion video views on Facebook from over 440 million users. That’s incredible exposure to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Mobile technology is empowering charities with limited budgets to achieve large scale reach they could only previously dream of.

And while some social users are sceptical on whether these stunts benefit the charity financially, the results really silence the critics. Throughout summer, the ALS raised over $100 million during its social campaign. The MND association, a UK based charity fighting the same cause received over £7 million in donations. In perspective the 920,000 donations MND received in three weeks, would normally take up to 6 years to receive. That’s pivotal change for a charity, to allow them to push their research forward. Cancer Research who pushed a no-makeup selfie on social media raised £8 million in under a week; that’s funding to carry out 10 clinical trials for finding effective treatment.

Through engaging with these campaigns on our mobile apps, we can raise both awareness and funds for charities across the world.

Mobile life is rubbish

You don’t have to donate money to make a difference in the world. Sometimes all it takes is a spot of litter picking. Enter the brainchild of Jeff Kirschner, who with an Instagram photo, sparked a social movement to clean up our planet. Anytime a user picks up a piece of rubbish, they take a photo and tag it #Litterati. It’s a digital landfill which bears over 76,000 items of litter; each photo connecting like-minded individuals who are passionate about the environment.

Though a core following exists across the USA and northern Europe, the digital landfill of the #Litterati spans the globe. Whether its a McDonalds cup on the streets of Beijing, or a cigarette butt on Mombasa beach, these small acts are recorded to remind the world we can make improvements with the tiniest of gestures.

The Power is in your Pocket

What if we were to say, you and your smartphone can improve the world without breaking into your free time or donating a penny from your savings? All that’s required is a Wi-Fi connection and a little processing power from your mobile.

The HTC Power to Give initiative does exactly this. By downloading the app, your smartphone works alongside millions of devices to provide scientists with the computing power they need to discover answers to the world’s biggest problems. All you have to do is plug in your smartphone when you go to sleep and your device connects to the largest volunteer computing initiative in the world.

But how does a phone help a scientist? In order to solve the challenges of today, the science community run virtual experiments and simulations at an enormous scale. It’s too much for a single computer to take on, but with a little processing power here and there, mobile phones create a supercomputer which can deliver the answers at a much faster rate.

With this technology, you and your smartphone can opt into projects which are close to your heart. You could help discover an affordable filtering solution for the 1.2 billion who lack clean drinking water; the potential to save the lives of 4000 children a day! How about signing up for a project to disable known Cancer proteins? It would take over 8000 years on a single computer, but with help of the smartphone, can be whittled down to just two years. Incredible!


In all the examples above, it takes very little effort to be part of a global movement. Though individually it may not feel like much is achieved, the collected effort from thousands if not millions of smartphone users just like you is what can really make our planet a better place to live.

Don’t feel limited to playing Flappy Birds or watching viral Vines. With so much power in your pocket, go out there and change the world.