Help! In pursuit of Appy-ness, I've become an iPhone junkie
After using his smartphone Apps for a week, Declan Cashin finds there's no going back
There's a reason that those of us who own iPhones are referred to as 'users': we are addicted to that little shiny device.
Our constant checking of emails and YouTube clips, as well as our game-playing and web-surfing are the mobile phone equivalent of track marks on our arms.
That's before we even mention the Apps. These are bits of software -- applications -- that you download to your iPhone/iPad/Android/ Blackberry, which allow you to tailor your phone functions, and even the web, to your own tastes and needs.
Apps can be game programmes, quizzes, translators, train timetables -- you name it. Or as the Apple advert once put it: 'Whatever you want to do, there's an App for that'.
It's big business too. There are some 250,000 Apps available (both free and at a price), and there have been over six billion downloads since July 2008. The App industry is worth in the region of €1.8bn.
It's not about the cash though, is it? Apps are there to make our crazy modern lives easier. But do they really?
I'm not new to the iPhone, but I am only recently coming around to the App craze, so I decided to spend a week testing their usefulness in everyday life, love and the pursuit of App-iness.
It's only when I become focused on using Apps that I realise how dependent I am on them already. The alarm in the Clock App wakes me every morning.
First thing I automatically check the Weather App, then the SkyNews one for headlines, before a quick listen to the news on RTE from GrabRadio, followed by a quick browse of the Twitter and Facebook Apps. I say 'quick', but this can eat up anything from 5 to 20 minutes.
I'm in London, so this morning it's on to an interview in a hotel in the city. I'm a bit dopey when it comes to finding my way around.
I use the Google App to find the postal code of the hotel, and then put it into Google Maps, and I'm off.
There's even an App to assist me in the interview: Dragon Dictation converts speech into written text. Granted, there are still a few accuracy glitches in its software (I'm pretty sure that actress didn't tell me that she enjoys "slapping elephants' toes").
That, friends, is what the kids would call an App #fail. Luckily I backed it up with my trusty, prehistoric dictaphone.
A colleague had been raving about an App called Sleep Cycle. It works by putting your iPhone under the cover sheet near your body so it can register your body movements using the device's 'sensitive accelerometer'.
It then uses a 30-minute window that ends at your set alarm time to wake you when you're in the lightest sleep phase. This, apparently, helps you feel less tired when you wake up.
I followed the instructions to the letter, and sure enough my iPhone buzzes to life about 15 minutes before my set alarm time.
Alas, I don't feel that more rested.
Fame and fortune awaits the person who can invent a 'Make Me A Morning Person' App.
Of far more use is Shazam, an App that saves you from a condition even more head-wrecking than a poor night's sleep: not being able to identify a song you hear in public, like in a shopping centre.
The same track has been following me around for days so Shazam finally helps me identify it ('We Are The People', by Empire of the Sun, in case you're wondering). Victory is mine!
Time for the first guilt-induced trip to the gym of the week.
Having forgotten some of -- actually, all of -- the routine that the trainer showed me during my induction, it falls upon the iFitness App (downloaded at a cost of €1.50) to refresh my memory (though the ratio of studying the moves on my phone to actually working out is horribly skewed in favour of the former).
The only other App uses this day are the Dictionary, Voice Memos, and Skype to make a call to a friend in the US.
I'm not sure if the wider public is aware of Grindr, an App that essentially allows gay men to chat to or meet up with other men in their locality, all through a stalker-friendly, GPS-style system.
After some initial dodgy press, Grindr has been a big success, and its operators are currently working on a heterosexual version too. I log in, and exchange a few messages with one guy who, I am rather creepily informed, is 678 meters away from me.
Nothing comes of it, but at least I get the offer of attending a random party from some other user (there wasn't even a 'hello'; just the invite). I politely (and, I'm sure, wisely) decline.
A light App day. I use one to find out listings for my local cinema, and another to read one or two newspapers.
As the five-day experiment comes to an end, I have to admit that I'm clearly over-dependent on my iPhone and its services, which is why a) losing signal or WiFi is the equivalent of a user going cold turkey, and b) I cannot even type out a message on any other mobile phone anymore. Apple has me for life.
As if to re-affirm that point, a friend advises me to download a 180-level, time-thieving gaming App called Angry Birds.
Do yourself -- and your friendships, career, relationships, sanity -- a favour and ignore that one. Trust me: it does not, cannot, lead to an App-ily ever after.