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5 apps making their mark in Asia Pacific and beyond

A close-up of a man smiling and playing the ukulele. Behind him are four people gathered around a laptop talking.

Google Play turned 10 this year, and we’ve been keeping the celebrations going with local developer communities around the world. It’s an extra special occasion in Asia Pacific, which is home to one of the largest app developer populations (nearly a third of the 26.9 million app developers worldwide) and one of the most engaged audiences. In fact, people in Asia Pacific download and use mobile apps more than any other region.

Developers in Asia Pacific are reaching global audiences, with hundreds of millions of downloads outside the region. Some of these apps have become global names and inspired new trends on Play, like multiplayer gaming (Mobile Legends: Bang Bang), super apps (Grab), rapid delivery e-commerce (Coupang) and fintech solutions for the unbanked (Paytm).

Let’s take a closer look at some other emerging themes on Play — like mental health, news and music — where developers in Asia Pacific are making their mark globally.

Forest

Developer: Seekrtech, Taiwan

Listed on Play: August 2014

“The main goal of Forest is to encourage users to put down their phones and focus on the more important things around them,” says Shaokan Pi, CEO of Forest. Here’s how it works — you set a focus time period, whether you’re working at the office or at dinner with friends. Once you put down your phone, a virtual tree starts growing. If you stay focused (and don’t look at your phone), the sapling grows into a big tree. And you can earn virtual coins to grow more trees, and eventually a whole forest. There’s a real-world benefit, too — thanks to a partnership between Forest and Trees for the Future, you can spend your coins to plant real trees on Earth.

A group of seven people standing outside and holding a banner that says “Forest.”

The Forest team planting a tree in Kenya

SmartNews

Developer: SmartNews, Japan

Listed on Play: March 2013

SmartNews, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, uses artificial intelligence to collect and deliver a curated view of news from all over the world. But it’s not just an echo chamber — its News From All Sides feature shows people articles across a wide spectrum of political perspectives. SmartNews has also developed timely products like a COVID-19 dashboard and trackers for wildfires and hurricanes.

Evolve

Developer: Evolve, India

Listed on Play: July 2020

Evolve, a health-tech startup supporting the wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community, landed on Google Play’s Best of 2021 list in India. The app offers educational content for members of the LGBTQ+ community, covering topics like embracing your sexuality and coming out to loved ones. “There is a need for more customized solutions for this community,” says Anshul Kamath, co-founder of Evolve. “We hope to provide a virtual safe space where members can work on themselves and specific challenges that impact their daily mental health.”

Four people smiling at the camera and holding a trophy

The Evolve team with their “Best of Play” trophy in 2021

Magic Tiles 3

Developer: Amanotes, Vietnam

Listed on Play: February 2017

This musical game app quickly found fans in the U.S., Japan, Brazil and Russia. Magic Tiles 3 is designed to let anyone — even those without a musical background — play instruments like the piano, guitar and drums on their smartphone. You can choose from over 40,000 songs across genres like pop, rap, jazz and electronic dance music, and compete in an interactive game with others around the world.

Mom Sitter

Developer: Mom Sitter, Korea

Listed on Play: September 2021

Mom Sitter, a platform connecting parents with babysitters, topped the Play Store’s childcare category in Korea last year. But it didn’t actually start as a mobile app. It was founded as a website to help parents find babysitters while they were at work or when daycare centers were too full. After attending the ChangGoo program, Google’s training program for developers and startups in Korea, the Mom Sitter team learned they could reach more people if they went mobile. Today, caretakers all over the world use their services. “Childcare issues concern not only working women but everyone who raises children, and it’s important that they can find support,” says Jeeyea Chung, founder of Mom Sitter.

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