It’s funny how suddenly apps have become part of our everyday lives, and how quickly the word has become a standard, everyday word. Not long ago, only programmers knew what apps were, and tended to call them by their full names; software applications. Apple’s App Store opened in 2008, and it was only a matter of time before all new phones, and then many computers, were app based.
At first, basic phone functions were performed with apps, but soon companies and individuals were creating apps to do all kinds of functions. The sheer amount of things you can do with apps has lead to the phrase “There’s an app for that”. There are apps for websites, such as social media sites like facebook and twitter or reference sites like dictionary and webMD. There are game apps. So many game apps. There are apps that utilise or add to phone functions, such as torch apps which turn the flash on, or apps that you can use to turn your music into ringtones. There are photography apps, allowing you to edit photos or put them through filters. There are magazine, TV and radio apps, and learning apps, for studying languages or for a driving test.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten quite a few other types of things there are apps for, but that just shows that there really are apps for almost anything. As the happy owner of a smartphone and tablet computer, I use apps every day. I find myself downloading, playing and deleting game apps on a weekly basis, and check facebook and twitter before I get out of bed most days. I use a fantastic list app to keep all my to-do lists in one place, and have almost filled my tablet with magazine apps.
Of course, not all apps are normal and useful. Some are plain ridiculous, to the extent where the person who created them would have used their time better if they watched paint dry, and they are a waste of space in the app stores that feature them. There is the Hold the Button game, which does exactly what it says on the tin. You press a button, and it times how long you do it for. There is a Taxi Hailer app, which claims to make it easy to hail a taxi by displaying a bright picture of a taxi sign, which you hold up. In the same hand you would hold up to hail a taxi in the first place. There is even an alarm clock app for iPhones, which fills the exact same function as the alarm section of the pre-installed clock.
Of course, there are more ridiculous app concepts, and on finding those examples I immediately set out to think of the stupidest, most pointless app possible. It might be an app that shows a random RGB colour each time you open it, with no option to save it or get the code. Perhaps it could be an app for recording which flavour crisps you’ve eaten. It might even be an app that keeps a list of the apps currently installed on the device. What’s sad is that it’s entirely possible that those apps exist already. If you’ve seen them, I can only offer consolation.
It’s not all bad though, it’s just far funnier for the media to focus on the worst apps. In my random browsing, I’ve found some apps that are simply genius. I’ve seen apps that keep all your passwords safe, so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting them or somebody reading them. There are a few apps for finding recipes based on the contents of your fridge and cupboards. There’s one I use almost every day; the apps that let you create and arrange to-do lists with different levels of urgency, and notifies of any urgent items.
Far more fun and surprisingly easier than thinking of ridiculous app was coming up with ideas for genius apps. As my mum says of every technology “Can it do the ironing?” There should be an app that alerts you just before you get to your tube or bus stop, for people who sleep, read or have engaging conversations on public transport. There should be an app that makes you a shopping list by remembering what you usually buy, and what you’ve probably used up since last shopping trip. As a bonus, it could remind you about seasonal foods, and search the main supermarkets for offers. There could even be an app that takes a picture and searches online to find that item for sale, and compares prices, for when someone else has something you’d like, too, or when you find something in a shop you think is overpriced. It would be fantastic if one of those ideas already existed…