Apps you probably don’t need
By EUGENE NG
You know that moment when you’re just so happy with your phone that you give it a little peck? Well, now there’s an app for that. It’s called “Kissing Test” and it can magically judge how well you kiss…on a screen. If this is the weirdest thing you’ve heard all day, 1) I am excited I have the bragging rights for the day, and 2) good, because just like any other form of media, mobile applications are a telling sign of the times.
In the ever-expanding world of mobile apps, you have your useless entertainment apps (anyone up for some Britney Spears Photo Booth?), your games (from Candy Crush to Robot Unicorn Attack…2!), and your thoroughly-scientifically-examined, stalker-free-pass, social apps. But there’s also a huge part of the industry that is focused on “lifestyle.” These apps are designed to judge your performance, like how many calories you burned in a day, or to teach you how to do something. Some of these can actually be helpful. However, like the kissing app, many of these are more concerning than helpful.
First, the water tracking apps. Typically, one decides to drink more water when there is thirst to be had. Pretty standard, right? According to the creators of “Waterlogged,” apparently not. This app measures your water intake and tells you when you need to hydrate. I tried “Waterlogged” for about a day, and it was pretty easy. You take pictures of your water bottles and maybe the glasses you typically drink out of and record the ounces. Then, whenever you’ve consumed one of them, you channel Barney Stinson and give yourself a self-five because, good job, you’re doing something necessary for your general health! You can analyze your hydration process and show your friends lovely graphs that depict all the H2O you’ve chugged. You can even creep on your friend’s process, because water consumption is hype competition, of course.
Water’s lame, but what about how much alcohol you drink? “R-U-Buzzed?” might be the one for you. This program allows you to plug in your weight, number of alcoholic beverages consumed (separated into beer, wine, and liquor, and length of time you have been drinking. From there the app will measure your level of intoxication. It sounds scientific and eye-opening, but hold on a minute…are you really going to trust a phone (even if it is “smart”) to tell you if you can drive or not? I don’t know about you, but I think knowing if you’re a lightweight or not is a valuable life skill that should be exercised regardless of your current Internet connection. You don’t even need to actually use the app; one way to tell if you’re long gone is if you can’t find the app on your homescreen. Or not trip consistently. But hey, times are changing.
Or maybe it’s the Monday after a crazy weekend and you’re trying to text that chick who gave you her digits. How do you go about saying hello? Behold, the “Text Her This” app. This beauty gives you numerous options of what to send to that special girl you’ve had your eye on and helps to “keep your flirty text simple and in a non-sexual nature.” Good to know how to not be a creep? I guess some people need that. Many responses are creative, but sadly, this app assumes someone cannot even come up with a message as simple as, “We had a great time tonight.” My personal favorite is the eloquent, “You just popped into my head so I wanted to say hi!” The Textual Romeo Dictionary fortunately saves you work and leaves out little details like, “You popped into my head so I had to consult my texting for dummies app to know exactly what would be a simple, fun, and CASUAL way to say hello.” The sad part is that people actually use this. Take Kevin, who in the ratings and reviews section of the iTunes App Store replied: “WASTE of money. So corny this would never work with females. Better idea to just pick the girl’s number you want to text, close your eyes, and hit letters! The one star rating is generous!!!!! Now where’s my 99 cents?” Sorry, Kevin, for your lost dollar. But wasn’t discovering the “My back hurts! I hope you’re good at giving massages!” pick-up line worth it?
Man, with all these apps you must be busy. Like all day. Going places, ya know? So when you walk into your apartment or dorm and your roommate asks, “Yo, where ya been?” you no longer need to bother thinking about it. Just check out your super-necessary “Where Did You Go” app. On the Google Play page it explains that the program “helps you easily remember your favorite places (parking, home, friend, point of view,…).” Finally, right? Like I don’t know where my favorite restaurant that’s on that main street is, or where my neighbor lives, or hell, where I live! This app is so useful and it doesn’t impede my brain development at all. Even better, “Where Did You Go” reminds me where I was so I can make Facebook statuses talking about my wonderful, unique trip to Wegman’s that’s on some road I drive to but somehow don’t know the location of. Oddly enough, “great concept” is a repeated phrase in the comment feed.
Whether you find the programs useful or not, you have to wonder about the reasoning behind the decision to download them. Of course, there are the addicting ones everyone talks about, but reaching the 300 level of Candy Crush is not a great sign of how you spent your summer. And who hasn’t had that one friend on Instagram who couldn’t seem to stop posting photos for a week? Good or bad, it’s a movement. But what about those random apps you’ve stumbled upon? Do you think you would download an app that judges the quality of your life—be it for kissing technique or how much water to drink—and actually kind of care about how you measure up? The Internet has taught us to be curious and scroll and click really fast to read all sorts of random information that talks about things we might not necessarily need to know. And yet it has got us thinking—do we drink enough water? Are our texts engaging? Do we follow the right sleeping pattern?—and start to measure ourselves.
Of course, this most likely only lasts for a couple of days. In fact, a 2012 study from the Wall Street Journal reported that only 15% of smartphone users open any given lifestyle app 11 times or more. Look at your own apps. Don’t tell me you can’t name at least three apps that you downloaded and haven’t used in a month. And they’re there, being carried around in your pocket all day long, and, though not weighing anything, wasting your battery.