Ever wonder what makes a social app special? A review of the most innovative social apps reveals features and functionality that these top apps share. By Alicia Waters Graphic Designer, Metova, Inc. When you’re talking social and social networking mobile applications, you have to mention the standard, cross-platform apps that everyone must have: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Google+ and Flickr. You also have to mention the go-to location/travel focused apps such as Yelp, Foursquare and Gowalla. Once those industry Godzillas are given their due, you can begin to dig into more focused and targeted social apps that combine great usability and design to create truly special apps. The list that follows includes our favorites of those apps. First let’s answer the enduring question: What makes these social apps so good? In putting together our list, we ran across a set of characteristics that many of these social apps share. For example, a forth of them let users share via Twitter and include a “comment” feature. Twenty-two percent of them let users share content on Facebook and designate their “favorites.” The below infographic details the 14 functions most commonly used by these top apps. The next time you open your favorite social app, check its features against these 14 – I’m guessing that you’ll find a marked overlap. Top 10 Social Apps Balllin’ ~ a Dribbble client iPhone, iPad Developed by Kangaroo Bandit Software Balllin’ is a place where designers and developers can share screenshots of apps and designs that they are currently working on. The app uses tags to help users browse and share content easily. Get the app now Find My Friends iPhone, iPad Developed by Apple Inc. This social networking app has only one function: To let users see where their friends and family are located. It’s simple, direct, and most importantly, works very well. Get the app now Flipboard iPhone, iPad Developed by Flipboard, Inc. Pioneering and visually stunning, this is the only app to make our list that doesn’t have friends or groups integrated into the app. Flipboard acts as a hub for content, and lets users easily share content with other networks. Get the app now GetGlue Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad Developed by 2011 AdaptiveBlue, Inc. GetGlue is an entertainment app that lets users “check-in” to share their entertainment activities. With real-time feeds, users can keep up with how their friends are spending their free time as well. Get the app now: Android BlackBerry iOS Instagram iPhone, iPad Developed by Burbn, Inc. One of the most popular iOS apps of 2011, Instagram lets users take, apply filters and share photos. By connecting to Facebook, Twitter and email, Instagram speeds up sharing and expands the reach of the app. Get the app now Oink iPhone, iPad Developed by Milk, Inc. The one location/travel app to make the list, Oink lets users rate items (pizza, roller coasters, etc.) instead of just places. Taking full advantage of multimedia, Oink shows thumbnails of images and uses an intuitive navigation pattern. Get the app now Path Android, iPhone, iPad Developed by Path, Inc. If you’re bitter about the vast and impersonal nature of large social networking platforms, Path is the app for you. It acts as a journal and social network for close friends and family. Get the app now: Android iOS Pinterest Android, iPhone, iPad Developed by Top Apps (Android), Cold Brew Labs, Inc. (iOS) Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where users can share their lifestyle and inspiration. Initial contact with Pinterest requires users to actively engage, resulting in easy adoption to the network. Get the app now: Android iOS Sermo iPhone, iPad Developed by Sermo, Inc. Sermo is a social network for medical professionals. The app’s content is so targeted and unique that there’s no question what users are there for. The design built around the app’s content helps create and nurture the community, which is built every time the app gains a new user. Get the app now Spotify Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone 7 Developed by Spotify Ltd. The breakout music subscription service of last year, the Spotify app creates a portable listening environment for its community. Get the app now: Android iOS Windows 7