There’s an App for That

April 2010

As I write this in late February, among today’s batch of press releases is one pitching an iPhone app named Where to Wee. It has very valuable information if you’re out and about and you have an urgent need to . . . wee. You can simply whip out your iPhone and, using GPS, the app tells you what opportunities are nearby for . . . weeing.

As the commercial says, “There’s an app for that.”

Or let’s say you’re traveling down the Interstate and you’re thinking about stopping. How many times have you taken an exit only to find that there’s nothing in the nearby commercial district to your liking? Another press release from today pitches iExit. Start up the app, and it uses GPS to quickly determine where you are and what direction you’re traveling. It then offers information about the upcoming exits, as well as information about your favorite places to stop (Burger King?) that are coming up. Plus, it tells you where to turn once you get to the exit and provides maps.

And if, like me, you have tinnitus (a constant buzzing in your ears), there’s an app for that too. Today’s press release offers up iTinnitus Solutions 1.1. It has “information to guide users on how to mask and even inhibit the irritating noise they experience, so they can find periods of quiet relief.” Inhibit? Yep, it includes “validated sound therapy techniques applied to dynamic tinnitus tracking. . . [and] can improve the degree of perceived tinnitus.” Plus, the app lets you identify the frequencies of your tinnitus, track that on a graph, and e-mail it to a specialist or insurance company from within the app. They think of everything.

I get scores of these a day because I write for iPhone Life magazine. (Can’t believe I get paid to do this.) Apps, apps, and more apps. Some 150,000 as I write this and growing at a rate of 10,000 per month.

The iPhone has been a game-changer — a handheld Swiss-Army-Knife-like device that can be used for just about anything. Apple made it easy and fun, and independent developers jumped in, realizing that this was the wave of the future: a computer in your hand that constantly assists you in whatever you need.

And if that need is to remember who you’re intending to pray for, today’s press releases say PrayerJournal can help. “Are you looking for an easy way to maximize your prayer life? Are you having a hard time remembering who and what to pray for? Do you want to keep a record of answered prayers?” PrayerJournal is your ticket.

From wee to prayer, that’s about the whole range.

Part of the iPhone revolution is the amazing range of ways the camera can be used, such as the new augmented reality apps. Here’s how it works: you point the camera at something, see a live image on the screen, and also see information or graphics superimposed on that image. One early example is an app for the New York subway system. Point your iPhone camera at the street you’re on, and the app superimposes information about nearby stations, how close they are, and the lines available at that station.

Another popular use of the camera is the RedLaser app. It lets you scan a product’s barcode, then does a search to find price comparisons — and shows you the nearest location with the lowest price. So imagine that you’re at a mall and you see a power saw at Sears that you want to buy. Maybe a nearby store has it cheaper. Use RedLaser and you’ll know in an instant. And combine that with a quick search using the Black Friday App to see if there’s a special discount anywhere.

The iPhone excels at helping you find local information. Whatever you want to do — go to a movie, a restaurant, gas station — the iPhone will identify your location, give you information about the nearby establishments, and provide contact information, maps, and driving directions.

And once you get to an establishment, you can use the Park’n Find app to mark where your car is parked. It uses GPS to mark where your car is parked. It then guides you back to your parking location using a satellite image that automatically pans and zooms to show where your car is parked relative to where you are.

Other uses, of course, include watching movies and videos, listening to music, reading books, playing games, accessing information, and just about anything you can imagine — including finding a place to wee.

© 2010 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

E-mail Jim Karpen