There is a new word that has entered our vocabulary in the past couple of years. It’s “apps.” (This should not be confused with the word, “naps,” which I find much more useful). In case you’ve been doing things other than playing with your smart phone — like working or enjoying your family — an app is an application that you can add to your fancy phone. It might be a game or it could be something that’s useful like telling you what the traffic is like on the Santa Monica Freeway when you’re already on it. I guess the creation of these apps has come about because, let’s face it, people don’t spend enough time on their cell phones.
Some of the apps mentioned in a New York Times article include: “Google” which allows you to use your phone to, well, Google. “Angry Birds” is a game that involves birds, a catapult, and green pigs, obviously something that Alexander Graham Bell had in mind. Several of the apps are used to synchronize your home computer with your iPhone in case you can’t wait to get home to open that file you created three years ago that you never open. I’m not sure why anyone would want “Glympse,” which is an app that allows your friends to track your location — perfect for stalkers.
Those apps are just the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg. There are something like 200,000 apps for the latest iPhone, and new ones are being developed almost every minute. Make that 200,001. Those who use apps have a huge appetite for them. In an earlier time, people bragged about their children, their new car, or maybe an expensive vacation they just took. Now people brag about their phones. Young men often have a phone-app measuring contest.
So I thought of some more apps that people might enjoy while they’re wasting time. With “High School Revenge,” the phone automatically calls all the people who were mean to you in high school. Then your recorded voice says, “I turned out richer and happier than you are.”
With “Dangerous Food?” you point your phone at an item on the menu, it scans it, and then answers the question, “Will this give me gas?”
“Who Are You Kidding?” uses the phone as a lie detector. It picks up the pulse and the sweat rate of the person you suspect might not be telling you the truth. This one works especially well with teenagers and spouses.
“Handshake” is for germophobes. It determines if the person you’re meeting has washed his or her hands in the past 5 minutes so you’ll know if it’s OK to shake hands.
With “The Shakes,” a person in a restaurant can point his or her phone at the coffee pot the waiter’s holding and it will do a quick chemical analysis. Then the phone might angrily declare, “This isn’t decaf!”
“Hard To Tell” uses the latest 3-D technology to answer the question about the woman you’re looking at, “Are those real?”
“Hotel Room” is one that will save you a trip to a room that you might not end up taking. When you’re at the front desk checking in, all you do is point your very smart phone at the room number that they’re trying to give you. The phone will scan it, and then tell you if the room is OK or if it’s too close to the elevator, has that disinfectant smell, or is next door to people who like to sing their college songs all night.
“Too Young?” is an app that is perfect for a recently divorced man. He points the phone at his date and snaps a photo. Then the phone will tell him if he’s making a fool of himself with a woman who’s far too young for him.
I don’t begrudge people having fun with their phones. They spent their hard-earned money on them, so why shouldn’t they enjoy them? I might be an apps lover if I weren’t too dumb to work a smart phone. I just wish the app users wouldn’t talk so much about how great their apps are, especially when you’re in an elevator, or at a restaurant, or in bed. Maybe that’s the app which is really needed: An app that tells you when you’re talking about your apps too much.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from “Sesame Street” to “Family Ties” to “Home Improvement” to “Frasier.” He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.