Appsolutely appsurd apps: A look at some unwanted apps flooding the market

Sunday, 23 February 2014 - 8:30am IST Updated: Saturday, 22 February 2014 - 8:41pm IST | Agency: DNA
Jason Fernandes takes a few potshots at apps that make you go ‘Huh?’

Apple takes great pride in their tagline “there’s an app for that” and perhaps it’s true. Lately, it seems like both Google and Apple have an ever-increasing roster of apps, some more curious than others. But do we really need apps for everything, no matter how mundane? It seems clear by now that some apps are so absurd that they shouldn’t even exist.

For example, do travellers really need an Android app that lets you play recorded sounds from airports around the globe? Judging from the number of downloads clocked by airport Sounds, it would appear some do. If listening to recordings of flight delays and annoying announcements fails to fully do it for you, the app even features recordings from airports thus truly going beyond what one would be expect from such an app. The weirdest thing about this app is not its existence, but the inference that there are those who either secretly can’t get enough of layovers, or that retired airport staff are particularly prone to bouts of nostalgia.

The $0.99 “Hang time” might just top even that on the ridiculousness scale. The app encourages users to throw their iPhone skyward while an accelerometer times the length it stays airborne. That score is then compared to those around the world to determine ones ranking in relation to other phone flingers internationally. The app has an (understandably) low number of repeat players and one complained bitterly that his phone shattered before the app was even able to record his score. Oh the horror, the horror.

iTunes store abounds with ratings apps that add a sense of competition to mundane activities. But does humanity really need “Rate a fart 2.0”? Has several thousand years of human evolution really come down to this? The fact that anybody would ever spend their time rating other people’s flatulence is only marginally stranger than the fact that this is actually an improvement on a previous app!

An app eager to prove it’s not just a bunch of hot air is Passion. The app’s developers claim they can rate your sexual prowess using only the iPhone’s microphone and accelerometer. Of course this sort of rating is practically impossible but gullibility seems to be a winning strategy for app developers, or at least the makers of “Kiss Me” also seem to think so. Their app encourages its users to kiss with a smartphone screen for several seconds while the program rates their kissing technique on a scale of 1 to 10. One cannot hold developers responsible for inaccurate ratings, however, because in all fairness, the developers have likely had little contact with women, going by their understanding of intimacy.

The linguistically inclined app store features a slew of dictionaries, free translators and the like, but what about those of us who always wondered what babies were trying to say when they cried? Enter Cry Translator, an app which claims to do that. Of course, no app can actually translate a baby’s cries, but it does raise the question of what “caveat emptor” sounds like in baby speak! Other language apps are less ambitious but appear no less popular. The often downloaded Sexy Girl Talk app, for example, focuses on doing just one thing. Its sole advertised feature is its ability to read the alphabet aloud in a “sexual and sophisticated way”. While this might seem of little utility at first, when you consider India’s literacy rate, perhaps a more engaging alphabet tutor is all that’s needed.

Surely the British have found better ways to harness the power of mobile technology to empower their citizens? If so, an app by UK based XL Telecom would be a shining example of their best and brightest? “UK Payphone” is an iPhone app that places the convenience of searching for the nearest payphone right at your fingertips. This is perfect of course, because the one thing you really need when you have your smartphone in your hand, are the directions to another phone.

Have things gone too far? I’ve listed some ridiculous apps but they exist because people download them and perhaps that says more about us than their developers. An app is not going to make you better in bed and if you find yourself tossing your phone up in the air playing “Hang Time”, maybe there are better uses of your time. In the very midst of typing this last sentence, I switched over to my smartphone to download an app appropriately titled Keep Me Awake. I had to stop myself. As I tapped the “cancel download” button and shut down for the night, I reminded myself: sleepiness? There’s a nap for that!

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