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Vocapedia > Technology > Smartphones > Apps

 

 

 

Illustration:

Matt Huynh

 

What Isn’t There an App for?

NYT

JAN. 2, 2015

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/
style/what-isnt-there-an-app-for.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustration:

Giacomo Gambineri

 

Apps to Help Navigate Cruise Lines

NYT

MARCH 10, 2015

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/
travel/apps-to-help-navigate-cruise-lines.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apps for Android & iPhone: Advancing Your Screenplay        NYT        8 February 2015

 

 

 

 

Apps for Android & iPhone: Advancing Your Screenplay        Video        The New York Times        8 February 2015

 

Three apps to help screenwriters organize their work.

 

Produced by: Kit Eaton and Dallas Jensen

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/16zD81H

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video

 

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWKSfBxJI34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Apps to Improve Your English        NYT         31 January 2015

 

 

 

 

Free Apps to Improve Your English        Video        App Smart Reviews | The New York Times        31 January 2015

 

Three free apps to help you improve

your command of English-language grammar.

 

Produced by: Kit Eaton and Dallas Jensen

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1LlMH4I

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video

 

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKqeMn80fK0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuners, Metronomes and Sheet Music Apps        NYT        24 January 2015

 

 

 

 

Tuners, Metronomes and Sheet Music Apps        Video        App Smart Reviews | The New York Times        24 January 2015

 

Look no further than your smartphone to do everything

from tuning your stringed instrument to storing sheet music.

 

Produced by: Kit Eaton and Dallas Jensen

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/15Ap4VD

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video

 

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-1Xas2VLOg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apps That Predict What You Want        NYT        8 May 2014

 

 

 

 

Apps That Predict What You Want        Video        Molly Wood | The New York Times        8 May 2014

 

Molly Wood tests out contextual apps that can predict

what you may want from your phone

depending on the time of day or the activity you're doing.

 

Produced by:

Vanessa Perez, Rebekah Fergusson and Ricky Montalvo

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1s6XGTb

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video

 

YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyWgJEkac7Q&list=PL4CGYNsoW2iCzzn4pZBJ58IZAAsSgng2V

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create Your Own Comics        NYT        20 May 2014

 

 

 

 

Create Your Own Comics        Video        App Smart | The New York Times        20 May 2014

 

Kit Eaton tests out three apps

that can help you get started creating

your own digital comic book.

 

Produced by: Dallas Jensen and Kit Eaton

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/TmuRIz

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video

 

YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi_uOqnayWk&list=UUqnbDFdCpuN8CMEg0VuEBqA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

smartphone applications / app / mobile apps

 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/apps

http://www.nytimes.com/video/app-smart/

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/08/18/
749454254/this-app-aims-to-save-new-moms-lives

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/21/
637122361/how-smartphone-apps-could-change-the-way-sexual-assault-is-reported

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/12/18/
571086219/on-a-bad-date-these-apps-could-help-you-stay-safe

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/10/16/
557633144/mindfulness-apps-aim-to-help-people-disconnect-from-stress

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/10/15/
497828894/you-can-monitor-your-heart-with-a-smartphone-but-should-you

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/09/15/
494074992/teen-creates-app-so-bullied-kids-never-have-to-eat-alone

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/
opinion/sunday/solving-all-the-wrong-problems.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/19/us/
periscope-rape-case-columbus-ohio-video-livestreaming.html

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/02/29/
467959873/teen-girls-and-social-media-a-story-of-secret-lives-and-misogyny

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/nyregion/
two-apps-to-guide-you-to-good-food.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/
style/what-isnt-there-an-app-for.html

 

 

 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/23/
smartphone-apps-useless-apple-steve-jobs

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/11/
oral-sex-app-cunnilingus-lick-this

 

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/13/
number-text-messages-sent-britain-falls-first-time

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/11/
technology/gathering-more-data-faster-to-produce-more-up-to-date-information.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/us/
new-milestone-emerges-babys-first-iphone-app.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/
technology/the-faithful-embrace-youversion-a-bible-app.html

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/11/
technology/instagram-deal-is-billion-dollar-move-toward-cellphone-from-pc.html

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/
technology/personaltech/epsons-megaplex-is-a-home-theater-
powered-by-iphone-state-of-the-art.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/
technology/personaltech/watching-stars-fall-cellphone-in-hand.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/14/
new-york-condom-app

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/feb/09/
confession-app-catholics-iphone

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/insideguardian/2011/jan/19/
iphone

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/dec/26/
best-apps-iphone-ipad-android

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2020 > New coronavirus > Covid-19 pandemic > contact-tracing app        UK

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/20/
uk-plans-for-contact-tracing-in-doubt-as-app-not-ready-until-june

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/15/
nhs-preparing-to-roll-out-covid-19-contract-tracing-app-by-end-of-may

 

https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2020/may/12/
track-and-trace-will-the-governments-new-app-work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

apps > videoconferencing app / video call app / video calls / video-calling > Zoom        UK

 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/zoom

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/may/21/
the-zoom-boom-how-video-calling-became-a-blessing-and-a-curse

 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/may/21/
the-zoom-boom-how-video-calling-became-a-blessing-and-a-curse

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/01/
do-you-know-how-zoom-is-using-your-data-heres-why-you-should

 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/shortcuts/2020/mar/25/
zoom-the-29bn-video-call-app-youd-never-heard-of-until-coronavirus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

feature        USA

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/06/06/
531777684/apple-takes-on-distracted-driving-with-new-feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mobile blogging        USA

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/12/
technology/personaltech/mobile-blogging-options-for-storytelling-on-the-go.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

traffic apps        USA

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/05/18/
407658702/the-tech-behind-traffic-apps-how-well-do-they-work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

high-quality eye exams        USA

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/05/28/
409731415/smart-phones-are-so-smart-they-can-now-test-your-vision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

messaging app > Yo        USA

 

the new app that lets users

send the message “Yo”

to other users

and does absolutely nothing else.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/05/
opinion/introducing-the-on-app-the-yo-of-the-future.html

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/
with-single-word-yo-messaging-app-gets-people-talking/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram        USA

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/10/
science/instagram-mental-health-depression.html

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/08/
535835959/instagrandma-baddiewinkle-says-shes-always-been-a-rebel

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/06/02/
411569265/coming-soon-more-ads-on-instagram-and-a-buy-feature-on-pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple's new iOS 9 feature, called, simply, News        USA        June 2015

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/06/09/
413180089/how-apple-hopes-to-take-a-bite-out-of-the-news-business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iOS app > FireChat        USA

 

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/04/07/
298925565/how-one-app-might-be-a-step-toward-internet-everywhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

smartphone applications / app / mobile apps / mobile messaging app

instant messaging apps > WhatsApp and Snapchat

 

instant messaging apps

that, at a fraction of the price,

allow (people) to communicate

with several people simultaneously,

punctuate their messages

with brightly coloured icons,

and send photos and videos.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/13/
number-text-messages-sent-britain-falls-first-time

 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/07/
snapchat-memories-photo-messaging-service

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/
technology/snapchat-reaches-settlement-with-federal-trade-commission.html

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/20/
whats-whatsapp-what-has-facebook-bought-for-19bn

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/13/
number-text-messages-sent-britain-falls-first-time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snapchat        UK

 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/snapchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snapchat        USA

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/07/06/
535076690/can-snapchats-new-snap-map-bring-the-world-closer-together

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/02/04/
513255714/does-snapchat-need-to-go-beyond-young-users-to-succeed

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/02/02/
512434920/snapchat-all-grown-up-5-things-we-learned-from-snaps-ipo-filing

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/21/
506143751/uber-and-snapchat-team-up-to-zero-in-on-your-friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

location apps        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/07/12/
739873391/once-considered-creepy-location-apps-now-seen-as-critical-for-safety-logistics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

office messaging app        USA

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/
technology/slack-the-office-messaging-app-that-may-finally-sink-email.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

learning apps        USA

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/
technology/learning-apps-outstrip-school-oversight-
and-student-privacy-is-among-the-risks.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

health apps        UK

 

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/08/
health-apps-smartphones-top-10-gp-recommends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

health apps        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/14/
585715952/medical-records-may-finally-be-coming-to-your-apple-smartphone

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/10/15/
497828894/you-can-monitor-your-heart-with-a-smartphone-but-should-you

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/06/23/
483098999/the-challenge-of-taking-health-apps-beyond-the-well-heeled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mahmee        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/08/18/
749454254/this-app-aims-to-save-new-moms-lives

 

 

 

 

monitor your heart        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/10/15/
497828894/you-can-monitor-your-heart-with-a-smartphone-but-should-you

 

 

 

 

apps for relaxing and meditation        USA        2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fEC7cKQPTM

 

 

 

 

fitness apps        USA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nex58WlIGA

 

 

 

 

fitness devices / free phone apps        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/19/
technology/personaltech/review-lg-lifeband-touch-and-samsung-gear-fit.html

 

 

 

 

Desperate to get pregnant?

There's an app for that        UK        18 May 2014

 

Smartphone technology

combined with wearable temperature sensors

has given new hope to couples

diagnosed with unexplained infertility

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/18/
desperate-pregnancy-app-smartphone-technology-couples-infertility

 

 

 

 

decision making apps        USA        2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juG0_EQzY-M

 

 

 

 

photo apps        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/video/2014/may/08/
how-to-get-best-photo-apps-smartphone-video

 

 

 

 

photo album app > Turning Phone Photos Into Albums        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/
technology/personaltech/organization-help-for-turning-phone-photos-into-albums.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

broadcast        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/18/us/
man-inadvertently-broadcasts-his-own-killing-on-facebook-live.html

 

 

 

 

Twitter > Periscope app        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/19/us/
periscope-rape-case-columbus-ohio-video-livestreaming.html

 

 

 

 

Facebook Live        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/18/us/
man-inadvertently-broadcasts-his-own-killing-on-facebook-live.html

 

 

 

 

Facebook > messaging > Messenger app        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/09/
technology/facebook-messenger-app-encryption.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/13/
technology/facebook-bets-on-a-bot-resurgence-chattier-than-ever.html

 

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/27/
facebook-adds-free-video-calls-to-messenger-app/

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/10/
technology/facebook-hires-from-paypal-to-focus-on-messaging.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustration: Olimpia Zagnoli

 

In Defense of Tinder

NYT

FEB. 6, 2015

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/
opinion/sunday/in-defense-of-tinder.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dating apps > Tinder        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/02/
572259115/what-makes-us-click-how-online-dating-shapes-our-relationships

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/12/18/
571086219/on-a-bad-date-these-apps-could-help-you-stay-safe

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/15/
502197048/tinder-now-lets-users-identify-as-genders-other-than-male-or-female

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/30/
472250698/to-catch-someone-on-tinder-stretch-your-arms-wide

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/02/29/
467959873/teen-girls-and-social-media-a-story-of-secret-lives-and-misogyny

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/nyregion/
on-tinder-taking-a-swipe-at-love-or-sex-or-something-in-new-york.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/
opinion/sunday/in-defense-of-tinder.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/09/
fashion/with-some-dating-apps-tinder-less-casual-sex-than-casual-text.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/30/
fashion/tinder-the-fast-growing-dating-app-taps-an-age-old-truth.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

social networking > dating app > Tinder        UK

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/28/
tinder-romance-cliches-profile-pics

 

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/nov/23/
tinder-shallowest-dating-app-ever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on Tinder        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/12/18/
571086219/on-a-bad-date-these-apps-could-help-you-stay-safe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dating app > Waving        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/03/18/
594671282/determine-potential-partners-by-voice-in-new-dating-app

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dating app > Bumble        USA

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/
fashion/bumble-feminist-dating-app-whitney-wolfe.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

taxi-hailing app        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/nyregion/
as-ubers-taxi-hailing-app-comes-to-new-york-its-legality-is-questioned.html

 

 

 

 

taxi app        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/06/03/
411538709/a-taxi-app-aims-to-build-trust-where-crime-is-high

 

 

 

 

Uber        USA

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/29/
uber-app-changed-how-world-hails-a-taxi-brad-stone

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/21/
506143751/uber-and-snapchat-team-up-to-zero-in-on-your-friends

 

 

 

 

The Guardian iPhone app        UK

https://www.theguardian.com/global/insideguardian/2011/jan/19/
iphone

 

 

 

 

The Guardian Windows Phone app        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/help/insideguardian/2011/oct/07/
guardian-app-windows-phone

 

 

 

 

on an app        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/
technology/the-faithful-embrace-youversion-a-bible-app.html

 

 

 

 

mobile photo-sharing        USA

 

smartphone apps

transform cellphone photos

so they look better,

tag them with location data

and post them in real time

to social networks

on phones and the Web

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/
technology/11photo.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mobile payments > Apple Pay        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/
technology/with-new-apple-products-a-privacy-challenge.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/
technology/apples-ambitious-bet-beyond-the-devices.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

online mobile game        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2018/01/02/
574471694/chinas-most-popular-mobile-game-charges-into-american-market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Isn’t There an App for?

 

JAN. 2, 2015

The New York Times

 

I am afraid of the Machine. Expose me to banner ads or anticipatory marketing and I am instantly reminded of the inexorable rise of the android; hand me a pair of Google Glass and I am convinced that “RoboCop” was a documentary.

The 19th century saw the advent of radar, the assembly line, fiber optics and plastic; this century we’ve created apps that tell you who in your neighborhood would be willing to have sex with you.

Yet, loath though this frequent emailer and social media enthusiast is to lead a life in thrall to algorithms and bots, I admit that having Scrabble on my iPhone has improved my life immeasurably. Indeed, in my dotage, it’s entirely possible that I’ll now look back on the accumulated years I’ve spent on subway platforms and airport tarmacs as the good years, the salad years.

So, if Scrabble can light up the dark alleys of my time on earth, maybe other apps can, too? The market research company Forrester Research predicted in 2011 that annual revenue from the purchase of apps would reach $38 billion in 2015, a figure so large as to inspire curiosity in even the most techno-churlish.

I recently spent three weeks trying to improve my life through apps. First, I diagnosed myself; I determined that I have bodily ills, household ills and wardrobe ills. Then I started Googling.

Lo, my bodily ills. The cold weather has slowed my commitment to swimming and walking; my current love handles give my mid-torso the silhouette of a rotary telephone. So for $2.99 I bought Meal Snap: You photograph food and Meal Snap coughs up a calorie count.

Maybe this will inject my snacking with accountability, I thought: taking pictures of all my midafternoon snacks and late-night indulgences will turn my liaisons with Mallomars into a war-crimes tribunal of eating.

It worked for a day or two. The bother of having to find my iPhone so I could capture, say, the handful of cashews that I wanted to eat while watching TV at night was a powerful corrective. But gradually, the idea of photo-documenting my dietary intake struck me as abject, like Andy Warhol obsessing over his taxi receipts or Howard Hughes hoarding bottles of his urine.

Moreover, I had perhaps naively hoped that my afternoon enablers — the people who grace the world with baked goods — would balk at my taking pictures of their wares before I ate them. But these people loved Meal Snap.

“Cool idea, bro,” a vendor at a muffin cart on Lower Broadway told me as I snapped away; a vendor at the Bread Alone stand at the Union Square farmers’ market asked for my camera to take the picture himself, saying he had the better vantage point. An ebullient, rawboned gentleman manning a coffee and doughnut cart at the corner of Houston and Broadway also cheered me on; he said, “Technology is so high today. Soon they will be able to tell you in your head to go left, go right, go left.”

I asked him, “Is that the kind of future you want?” He said, “I don’t know. But pictures of doughnuts are very nice.”

One day, while walking through Whole Foods on Houston Street, my friend Ryan asked me if I ever photographed my snacks from unusual angles in order to try to get a lower calorie count. Thrilled by the idea, I placed an apple crisp muffin on the store’s floor, and was soon smiling at a notice on my iPhone reading “0 calories.” The jig was up.

I had much better luck with two apps devoted to exercise. I had three good sessions with Learn Hip Hop Dance, a series of videos starring a highly charming Samuel L. Jackson-type named Professor Lock who’s given to expressions like “Indubitably, indubitably” and “Y’all stay in there like swimwear.”

You start with lessons like “Find the Beat” and “Shoulder Lean.” You ease into segments like “Strobing,” “Bobbing,” “Ticking.” Then you explode into “Cat Daddy,” “Smurf Dance,” “Sponge Bob,” “Watergate Dance.” I did my best to follow along to these videos while standing in my gym clothes in the office I rent; I was up in da club like Dilbert.

Even better for me — because it’s condensed, and because it’s pure routine rather than Learn Hip Hop’s lesson-followed-by-routine — is the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout. Here are seven heart-hammering, sweat-producing minutes of push-ups and jumping jacks and other instruments of torture, somehow made palatable by each exercise’s brevity (about 60 seconds) and recovery time (about 5 seconds).

Though the app encourages you ultimately to do three circuits of seven-minute workouts, I would point out that that would be a 21-minute workout, a kind of false advertising tantamount to finding every copy of “War and Peace” and crossing out the words “War and.”

My household ills take two forms. Most pressing are my apartment’s array of funky door hinges and other forms of discombobulation. This brought me into contact with what would be my favorite of the apps, TaskRabbit. Here are scores of willing and able folk proffering various kinds of domestic and event-staffing assistance.

I typed in my household tasks, my location and a date; TaskRabbit showed me 12 mini-profiles of people with handyman skills. Their rates ranged from $38 to $250 an hour. I chose Andy, the second least expensive ($50), who had a large number of flattering customer reviews.

Warm and tall, Andy carried a knapsack of tools; He is possibly the handsomest man who has ever been in my boyfriend’s and my apartment. Seconds after Andy arrived, I remembered with some embarrassment that my request had featured the sentence “I have water spurting out of my tub handles.” Andy, who is also an actor (he came fresh from auditioning for an Irish Spring commercial), methodically and quickly fixed four door hinges and a bureau drawer in an hour: blammo.

He confessed that he didn’t know how to fix the tub handles or our loose bathroom tiles; but the next day, when TaskRabbit asked for a review, I wrote, “This man has brought joy into our home.” TaskRabbit then asked, one through ten, how likely I was to recommend the app to a friend; I said nine. Asked why I chose nine, I wrote, “Ease. The trope of the hot handyman. The $15 initial discount.”

A week later Greg and I hired Andy again, to fix the sagging springs on our dining room chairs. Slightly rattled by the prospect of beholding his good looks again, I found myself cleaning the apartment before his arrival. An hour in, I told Andy: “I see that you identify on your Twitter account as a Christian actor. A Christian and a carpenter: That’s a heavy burden.” Andy responded, “I’m not Christ.”

I asked, “But have you considered growing your hair out and taking on a facial expression of constant pain?” With mock anguish, Andy asked, “ ‘What have you people done to me?’ ”

Two and a half hours later, I told Andy how great it was to find someone to do small household tasks. I said, “In an ideal world, you’d be like Kato Kaelin and live in our backyard.” Andy’s voice went all twangy: “ ‘We broke some stuff, y’all!’ ” He smiled and confessed, “I don’t know why I did that with a Southern accent.”

Had we simply gotten lucky with Andy? A few days later, I went back onto TaskRabbit and hired another rabbit, this one at $25 an hour, to dust a lot of books and help clean a rug. Upon his arrival, I told Tanael, a friendly young stand-up comic from Haiti, “I’m going to reveal my deepest, darkest, most shameful secret to you.” Tanael’s eyes widened as he asked, “Am I ready for this?” He then helped my boyfriend and me to move our wooden sleigh bed 12 feet so that I could clean an 18-years-untouched hellpit of cat hair and abandoned shoes thereunder. The next day I wrote a review for Tanael: “Tuh-NILE is tuh-RRIFIC.”

On the home front, I could also use some variation to the rotation of 15 or so dishes that I make for dinner. So I subscribed to Plated, a weekly service that, for about $12 a plate, sends you the ingredients and a recipe to make an entree. On my first foray, I selected from 10 great-sounding dishes (some of them developed with NYT Cooking) and chose roasted parsnips with beef Bolognese, and carrot coriander soup topped with roasted, crunchy chickpeas.

When my food arrived in an ice pack-equipped cardboard box two days later, I discovered I had been sent mustard chicken instead of the beef Bolognese. I called Plated, and a friendly employee named Heather quickly emailed me a recipe for the chicken, and credited my account $24. Then, some 30 minutes later, I discovered I had been sent only one piece of chicken instead of two.

When I wrote the company about the missing chicken, and received an automated response asking what I thought of Plated’s customer service, I screamed at my computer. I wrote back that I loved Plated’s food but was confused about the chicken oversight. “O, Plated. I don’t know what to do about you,” I wrote. “I worry that your eye is on another customer — and that you sometimes whisper to this other customer, ‘Extra chicken.’ ”

A few hours later, though, Heather sent me a lovely response. After I had ordered several more meals, when I ultimately decided to terminate my subscription, she wrote that she was sorry I was leaving: “The last thing I would want you to think is that you’re just another number in the system because that is not the case.”

I’ve always maintained that you can’t buy pants or shoes online, because you need to try them on. So for my final app experience, I decided to try to buy a pair of wool pants. Typing my vitals in to three fashion apps — Hugo Boss, Shop It to Me, and Gilt Groupe — I soon had ordered six pairs of pants, all of them returnable.

The pants arrived in a flurry of cardboard boxes. I loved two of them, both from Gilt: a pleated, slightly nappy wool-cashmere blend from Incotex ($129), and a white and maroon striped pair of flannel-like flat fronts from Michael Bastian ($129). That evening, while trying these two pairs on, I told Greg: “Help me decide which pair to keep. The correct answer is, ‘Maybe you should keep them both.’ ” Greg surveilled the offerings and said, “Maybe you should keep them both.” Cue bluebirds.

Meanwhile, I returned the other pants, all of which had fallen prey to two forces: the lack of universal sizing and an online consumer’s inability to touch the merchandise. The Shop It to Me pants, a lightweight herringbone wool from Brooks Brothers ($248), were too tight. As were a pair of flat fronts from Tiger of Sweden ($169); I wrote on Gilt’s website: “Tight as an embolism stocking. You’d have to cut me out of them with scissors.”

I had an errand to run near the Hugo Boss store in SoHo, so I presented the box of two Hugo pants to a helpful salesman named Jorge who said he’d send them back for me. I told a smiley, gorgeous colleague of Jorge’s (think Lupita Nyong’o in a gray man’s suit) that the pants weren’t woolly or unusual enough for me. “I like them,” I said, “But their message is a little off. Their message is ‘Sometimes at Work They Ask Me to Change the Xerox Toner.’ But I’m trying to say, ‘Free Liquor in the Faculty Lounge!’ ” Lupita enthused, “I love that! Love that.” Three minutes later, as I left the store, she bade me goodbye with: “O.K., lovey. You enjoy that, the free liquor in the room.”

My three weeks of app mania are behind me now. I’m left with a much-improved apartment, an exercise regimen that I can perform anywhere, two pairs of great-looking wool pants, and many, many iPhone photos of muffins. I am barraged by emails daily from most of the apps I used; nothing makes me feel quite as numb as a fashion app trying to interest me in its “sweater weather event.”

I used to be ticked off when the music service Pandora asked me, “Are you still listening?” because it seemed like a thousand pounds of neediness from a source I wasn’t expecting. But nothing rivals the irritation of being over 40 and trying to fit into pants fashioned after drainpipes.

I’ve gone two steps forward and one back. In the end, I’m now more open to any technology that will bring me into contact with good workers and good services; but I’m more irritated than ever by emails that emerge from commerce’s primordial soup.

My story is bittersweet. I know I’ll never want to be told to go left, go right, go left. But now I think pictures of doughnuts can be very nice.

 

Henry Alford is the author of “Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? A Modern Guide to Manners.” Circa Now appears monthly.

A version of this article appears in print on January 4, 2015, on page ST1 of the New York edition with the headline: What Isn’t There an App for?.

What Isn’t There an App for?,
NYT,
2.1.2015,
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/
style/what-isnt-there-an-app-for.html

 

 

 

 

 

A Billion-Dollar Turning Point

for Mobile Apps

 

April 10, 2012

The New York Times

By JENNA WORTHAM

 

The path for Internet start-ups used to be quite clear: establish a presence on the Web first, then come up with a version of your service for mobile devices.

Now, at a time when the mobile start-up Instagram can command $1 billion in a sale to Facebook, some start-ups are asking: Who needs the Web?

Smartphones are everywhere now, allowing apps like Foursquare and Path to be self-contained social worlds, existing almost entirely on mobile devices. It is a major change from just a few years ago, underscoring how the momentum in the tech world is shifting to mobile from computers.

In that context, the Instagram deal looks like something of a turning point, as even the Web giant Facebook tries to get a better grasp on a market that requires a rethinking of old rules.

“For decades, the center of computing has been the desktop, and software was modeled after the experience of using a typewriter,” said Georg Petschnigg, a former Microsoft employee who is one of the creators of Paper, a new sketchbook app for the iPad. “But technology is now more intimate and pervasive than that. We have it with us all the time, and we have to reimagine innovative new interfaces and experiences around that.”

Venture capitalists are eager to get in on the mobile trend. According to the research firm CB Insights, mobile apps and companies attracted 10 percent of the total investment dollars from American venture capital firms in last year’s fourth quarter, and 12 percent of deals were mobile-related, up from 7 or 8 percent in previous quarters.

Ben Lerer, manager of the venture capital firm Lerer Ventures, said he preferred to back companies that were building services for mobile first and the Web second, because “businesses that are thinking that way are planning for the future.”

Mr. Lerer was one of the early investors in OMGPop, a New York company that was close to shutting down until it had an overnight hit in Draw Something, a twist on Pictionary for the iPhone. Last month, OMGPop was snapped up for $200 million by the game company Zynga, which has been trying to reduce its dependence on Facebook-based games like FarmVille.

Another hit game, Angry Birds from the Finnish company Rovio, started out on the iPhone before migrating to computers and video game consoles — an unusual trajectory in the game world.

Cellphones are also prompting a shift in how people want to share things online, creating a market for apps that make instant sharing easy, said S. Shyam Sundar, a director of the Media Effects Research Lab at Pennsylvania State University.

In other words, many people want to post a photograph of themselves right from a sun-drenched beach in Bali, rather than waiting until they are back home to upload all 50 pictures onto Facebook.

“People are living in the moment and they want to share in the moment,” Professor Sundar said. “Mobile gives you that immediacy and convenience.”

Instagram, a social network focusing on just that kind of instant photo sharing, does have a Web site — but it is essentially there just to encourage people to download the company’s apps. It is one of several social networks that have established themselves entirely on mobile. Another is Foursquare, which lets users share their location with a select few friends and has attracted nearly 15 million members.

“Mobile-first is the direction that many social networks are headed,” said Holger Luedorf, the company’s head of business development. If done right, he said, such services start to feel “baked into” the phone itself.

Dave Morin, who was at Facebook early on and left to create Path, a social network for mobile phones, said he realized that the world was headed for a mobile-centric future in 2009, when the influential analyst Mary Meeker published a report saying that more people would soon connect to the Internet on mobile devices than on personal computers.

Path does not release user numbers, but its app appears to have traction, particularly among people who have become disenchanted with Facebook. “Because you take your smartphone with you everywhere, you can quickly and easily take a photo or video, map your location or jot down a note or a thought,” Mr. Morin said.

Companies that start with a Web site then try to shrink it into an app face a tough challenge. Screen space on mobile devices is at a premium. And to avoid turning off users, designers and developers have to cut back on clutter and streamline their services, avoiding slow load times and stuttering interruptions.

Start-ups that put their resources into mobile from the beginning can skip some of the hassles. “You’re freed from worrying about so many of the things that you have to think about when it comes to Web development,” said Oliver Cameron, one of the founders of Everyme, an app introduced Tuesday that analyzes a user’s contacts and generates miniature social networks around people it thinks belong together.

Then there is the relative ease in finding an audience. Web sites and software packages have trouble standing out in the crowd. But apps have a simple distribution mechanism in app stores, which can immediately bring an app to a customer’s attention. “In February we had close to 900,000 downloads,” said Andreas Schobel, chief executive of Catch, a start-up in San Francisco that makes a note-taking app. “How would we do that on the Web?”

Mobile apps tailored to work for specific devices like the iPhone also run faster than Web sites, Mr. Schobel noted. “When you’re on the phone you need the experience to be instantaneous,” he said. “You just can’t do that yet on the Web.”

 

Brian X. Chen contributed reporting.

A Billion-Dollar Turning Point for Mobile Apps,
NYT,
10.4.2012,
 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/11/
technology/instagram-deal-is-billion-dollar-move-toward-cellphone-from-pc.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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