This article offers an analysis of the development of three hearing and communication apps, drawing on interviews with people involved in their production. While a central figure in the media studies literature on apps is the self-managing individual health consumer, this article argues that physical and social environments and relationships within them are central to the way the hearing apps are produced, circulated and used. Often emerging from commercial start-ups, hearing apps become aligned with – or indeed stand in for – various kinds of governmental initiatives, not only in health but also in education and economic development. Partnerships between government, research and commercial organisations and the need to work through app intermediaries to find their end users shaped the way apps create recognisable ‘problems’ to address. This problematising function of apps and its impact on the uptake and use of apps are the key areas for future research.
- digital media
- digital health