• 72°

Just download an app

By Shane Starr
A LaGrange resident

Can you remember the first time you heard the word “app” as it applied to a smartphone? It wasn’t that long ago for me, since I didn’t even have a personal cell phone until 2012.

I remember asking people I was with what “apps” were, and most of them didn’t know either. The responses were (1) a European mountain range (2) the muscles in your stomach that showed off a six pack (3) the poisonous snake that killed Cleopatra and — the approximately right answer — (4) an “icon-thingee” on your phone.

Since that day, I have watched with fascination as new apps perform more and more tasks (and whether we need them performed is a totally different question). I’ve tried at times to understand more about how apps actually work, and I still think it’s a bite dodgy. I mean, think about it — you obtain a new app at the “app store” which is itself, an app. Isn’t that the kind of tautological nonsense like “the word ‘word’ is a word?” And you can’t visit the app store in person, only through your phone, but when you order an app, a new icon-thingee just shows up immediately. Its like the wind. Where does it come from? Where does it go? I feel the hand of extra-terrestrial involvement at work here.

Unfortunately, apps are so cool, in a very short time you stop wondering about where they come from. Its sort of like cholesterol medicine or septic tanks — as long as they work, we don’t really need to understand the details. Instead, we download more and more things that we never realized we needed until we found out there was an app for it. I never knew I needed to know the number of steps I walked in a day, or what time it was in Moscow, or where the International Space Station was. I have apps that tell me when to change the oil in my truck, what fast food is available at the next interstate exit, and apps that tell me which apps I’m using most.

As an app user, I think it is inevitable that you eventually start thinking about apps you could create. For instance, everybody knows Face Time, but where is Face Mime, an app which is like Face Time, only without audio? How about Face Dime, an app which would show your profile as it would appear on a low-value piece of coinage? Maybe Twitter could have a sister application, “Bitter”, that catered to all of the negative people who just want to broadcast unkind thoughts? Or “Litter”, for all the anti-environmentalists, so that they could pollute virtual space with virtual trash?

The opportunities are endless, and there is money to be made, if I could just make contact with an extraterrestrial, and figure out how this is done.