Published: Friday, May 29, 2009
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Want to find where you can get the best margaritas in Chicago? There's an app for that. Want to play cricket noises when your friend makes a bad joke? There's an app for that. Want to learn Klingon? There's even an app for that. Created by Apple Inc., applications have become the newest hot item. They range from organizational and helpful to funny and addicting. Since the iPhone was introduced to the U.S. in 2007, its popularity has grown exponentially. It is not only a phone, but an MP3 player, 2.0 mega-pixel camera and television. Add to that 3G Internet access and the thousands of applications available and the iPhone is practically a pocket-sized computer. After its August 2008 debut, Time Magazine declared it the Best Invention of the Year.
The Invention of the Year became the technology must-have and its attractiveness continues to grow, especially with a constant supply of new tools, like apps, that give the user even more to do on their handheld device. Apps are available not only for the iPhone, but are now available for some iPods as well, making them an even more popular craze.
There are now more than 39,000 total applications available from the Apple Store and countless Web sites. Users can swap reviews on every single one of them. Sites like apprater.com, iphoneapps.org and iphoneapplicationlist.com allow app-curious people to find out anything they want to know about the apps, or to find out if iPhone's slogan "There's an app for that," is true to its word.
High-school student Lauren Karalis checks the Web sites for the reviews of the best and worst apps. She has around 75 of the nearly 40,000 available apps on her new iPhone. "It's an addiction," she says. "It's sad, but the iPhone is taking over my life." Karalis and her friends and family share new app stories daily with each other as well. "Every time I see her she has a new one to show me," says her older brother Chris. "Some are so pointless. One is just an app that turns the screen into what looks like water and you can move it around.I don't really get the excitement in it."
Chris Karalis, a junior at DePaul, who does not own an iPhone and with all the apps now available, says he probably should be thankful. "I wouldn't get anything done," he says, "I have to try hard to pay attention in class as it is.if I had all those apps, I would never put my phone down."
Others, however, believe applications make the iPhone even more appealing. "I don't have one, but I've seen some apps that make me really want to splurge and get it," Cait Watson said. "My friend has one that where you can search and find whatever kind of food restaurants are in the area where you are.In a big city like Chicago, I know I'd use it a lot."
Watson is correct that there are a large number of apps that really make the iPhone more tempting and might make daily life easier. The personal assistant app organizes all your personal accounts. The Mighty Docs app synchronizes your iPhone with your Google Docs files for offline reading. The Expense view app allows you to keep track of your receipts by category and will create a chart for easy analysis.
It is safe to say, however, that although many apps are extremely useful, a majority are extremely useless. Columbia College senior and iPhone owner Randy Riback says he has way too many apps that he never uses. "[I have] games and stuff that I'll play once and forget about," he said. "Oh, and I have an app that's a flashlight. That's the one I never use."
Other useless, but possibly addicting, apps include thousands of games and noisemakers, an app that will turn your iPhone into a static name tag and one that, when you shake your phone, displays a self esteem-boosting message.
"I don't care what anyone says," said hairstylist Katie Kocken. "I love my stupid apps; they make my day much more interesting." She said her favorite useless one is an app that displays goofy pictures of a mouth.
Riback's flashlight app and Kocken's smile app are two of more than a billion apps to be downloaded as of April 2009. Apple Inc. rewarded the one billionth app downloader with the MacBook Pro, $10,000 credit on iTunes and an iPod touch.
Even with the generous prize, Apple is making boatloads of money off the App Store. According to techcrunch.com, Apple has made an estimated $25 billion to $40 billion off applications since their debut.
The prices for apps usually range between free and $10, but some can be found that are hundreds of dollars. The iRa Pro is nearly $900. It gives the user touched based viewing of their IP-based video surveillances from anywhere in the world.
Apps have made almost anything possible from the palm of your hand. It brings entertainment, organizational tools and information to the user at all times.
Many believe that iPhone apps are ridiculous and, even more, are hindering human interaction that is already worsening with new technology. "We all thought television and the Internet were bad. But now, it's the iPhone apps," said Laura Thomas. Thomas' father and brother-in-law own iPhones and never put them down. "We will be out to eat with the whole family and they will both just sit on their phone the whole time. No talking, nothing," she said. "Plus, they look stupid because they play this fishing game where you actually have to cast the line.it's somewhat embarrassing."
There is a point to Thomas' opinions. On a daily basis, it is almost a guarantee you will catch someone playing a game or scrolling through their apps on the train, in class or out to eat. The app fad is taking over, making people even less social and even more reliant on technology to keep them entertained all day, every day.
So what's next for the future of apps? It is easy to say that the number will continue to multiply and the creators will continue to create. But like all trends, it has to end somewhere. On the other hand, one could argue that apps are just the next generation of phone capabilities. Already, other service providers and phone companies are creating similar programs of their own.
One thing is for sure, apps are a growing craze. Whether they are used for navigation, party conversation or games, they are becoming addicting and necessary for iPhone and iTouch users.