First things first

I love Larry Page’s “toothbrush test”. The toothbrush test goes like this: a service passes the test if it is useful enough and important enough that people will use it at least once or twice per day. I believe Page was using this as a test for companies Google should be looking to acquire. This test can be applied to all sorts of services: social, utility, search, mail, productivity, messaging, communications, networking, security, home, wearables, internet of things, &c. What an incredibly clever way to summarize how valuable a service truly is.

A smaller variation of such a test is perhaps one I woke up with last week: your first service of the day. This won’t work for all types of services, and likely is only good for messaging, social networks and some types of personal productivity apps.

A week ago on Tuesday morning, I asked on Twitter “What’s the first app you launch when you wake up in the morning? (Mine is Mail.)

I don’t know if it was the time I posted this tweet or if it’s something enough people felt connected enough to and wanted to answer, but I got a lot of responses. I got sixty-six replies on Twitter, which might be more than I’ve ever gotten on any tweet in the past. Incidentally, even though this same question was automatically cross-posted to Facebook, I got no replies at all there. (I’ve got more than a thousand friends there, and more than twenty-five thousand followers, which is roughly the number of followers I’ve got on Twitter as well.)

The Twitter responses I did get were interesting and varied enough so I decided to tally them and write them up here. This is nothing scientific, this is not a representation of any age group or background. If anything, it’s just what my Twitter followers, many of whom are already in the tech world, have as their number one.

1 aeropress
1 calculator
1 circa
1 cliq
1 clock
1 fitbit
1 frontback
1 kiggit1
1 meditation
1 messages
1 nytimes
1 okcupid
1 on purpose
1 shower
1 soundcloud
1 timehop
1 twitterific
1 vine
1 weather
1 whatsapp
1 zite/flipboard
2 calendar
2 sleepcycle
2 tumblr
3 mailbox
3 tweetbot
5 gmail
5 notifications
6 mail
7 twitter
9 instagram

I was expecting Whatsapp and Messages and other messaging apps to be ranked number one, but perhaps messaging is just too fragmented across too many different apps, depending on who’s in your circle and where you live. It’s also entirely possible Messaging apps are all sitting in Notifications anyway – which is why that gets the number four spot in this list. (Add up all the different messaging apps that I got as replies, and that count goes up to seven…in second place).

Four were sleep and clock-related (fitbit, clock and sleepcycle) – it makes sense that the first thing you’d do when you wake up is to turn off the alarm or let your sleep tracker know you had woken up.

From an individual branded-app perspective, Instagram makes a solid appearance in the number one spot with nine votes. But if you tally up all the different ways one gets at Twitter (the main app, 7; tweetbot, 3; twitterific, 1), you find it passes IG with 11 votes.

If you tally up all the ways to get at e-mail, it takes the number one spot with 14 picks overall. Nothing will ever unseat e-mail; our children will be using it and our children’s children will be on it forevermore.

I was expecting weather apps ( and news (New York Times, Flipboard) to rank more highly, but perhaps that doesn’t happen until you get going with breakfast and you’re getting dressed and leaving home. In a way, it’s possible the overall number one and two (E-mail and Twitter) serve some part of this “news” need: a lot of how we consume the news comes at us in the form of newsletter summaries like Quartz and via tweets from what friends are reading.

Given that the first thing you do in the morning might be “reactive” (shut off the clock; look through notifications from the night before; when’s my first calendar event; do i have any pressing emails I need to attend before my shower; &c.), I wonder if I should have instead asked for both your first and your second picks. The second might actually end up being an interesting choice in itself: I suspect we might see things like Timehop (my second) ranked higher.