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10 Really Stupid Apps

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ralphie

This originally appeared on App 360 in 2014, so some of these (hopefully) may not longer exist.

There’s an age-old question that goes something like “What’s worse, the person telling the stupid joke or the person laughing at it?” The same principle applies to apps, but with a twist: “Who’s worse, the person who thinks of a dumb app, the person who downloads and uses it, or the venture capitalists who invest in it?” The answer is probably the venture capitalists, just because only idiots would invest millions of dollars into most of these things, and because the millions are what motivate people to make more of these insipid apps. At the same time, the VCs wouldn’t invest in the apps if people weren’t using them, so it’s a bit of a catch-22.

Regardless of who’s at fault, there are currently over 1.2 million apps in the Apple App Store, which means you’re gonna have a lot of really stupid ones. I feel it’s my duty to tell you about the stupidest ones I’ve found so far – those that it’s tough to even conceive of being useful. While not all of them have VC funding, I’m sure each one has been considered by at least one firm or another, so you can rest assured they’ll be around for weeks or at least days to come. Here are ten of the stupidest apps I’ve come across in my search for stupid apps.

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I Am T-Pain: I don’t think even T-Pain wants to be T-Pain anymore. So who buys this app? (Besides Drew Houston? Dunno. – Ed.) It’s basically autotune for the iPhone. Autotune has been such a blight on popular music that the mighty Jay-Z tried to destroy it with his song “D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)” and even he was unsuccessful. I Am T-Pain was developed by Smule, which has raised something like $30 million for its numerous musical apps, including Sing! Karaoke and Magic Piano (rated as “brilliant” and “very entertaining”). So while I don’t think (and by this I mean “I hope”) there was funding raised strictly to create the T-Pain app, someone at some point did say, “Hey man. You know what would be awesome? If we all sounded like that guy who sings ‘I’m On A Boat.’” That said, at least it makes more sense to fund an app or firm associated with a famous musical act than most of the other apps on this list, so I can let it slide for now.

Floret: Remember when most of the social interactions on the internet happened in chat rooms, and your friend met somebody in one and then had an internet girlfriend or boyfriend (whose photo, if one was provided, looked suspiciously like a random model’s headshot) for a few months? And remember how they never actually met this person in real life? If you answered “no,” then you’re making me feel really old right now. If you answered “yes,” then get ready to time travel back to the 90s. And no matter what you remember, get ready to cringe. Because Floret is an app that specializes in “Virtual Romance.” This is not to be confused with online dating, where you meet someone online with the intent to eventually, hopefully, mingle with them (and their, uh, private parts) in person. No, Virtual Romance is dating someone solely online, without ever intending to meet that person in person. To quote Floret:

Virtual Romance is fun, safe, and time efficient. You can enjoy all the good aspects of a romantic communication without the headaches and responsibilities. It’s also just one tap away, available whenever you feel like doing it.

This might be the saddest collection of sentences I’ve ever read. Even Dr. Krieger, the creepy scientist in Archer, at least gets to hang out with a hologram of his imaginary girlfriend sometimes. I mean, it’s okay to admit you’re asexual, there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to resort to a virtual relationship. But hey, maybe there’s a market for this: Floret has been invested in by K5 Ventures, StarEngine, and an undisclosed leading US dating company. (Match.com, are we looking at you?)

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Yo: Let me get this straight. All this app does is send the word “Yo” to another user of the app? That’s really it? And it got $1.2 million dollars in funding? Like real dollars, not Disney Dollars or one of theseReallySeriously? This is nuts. There are teachers in the Bay Area (and elsewhere) who use money from their already-measly incomes, burdened by techie-high rents, to buy school supplies for their students because the school district doesn’t have enough to supply them. And someone is spending $1.2 million on an app that says “Yo”?

SwivelCard: This isn’t actually an app, but it still fits into the category of ridiculous techy things that don’t really need to exist. The SwivelCard is a (paper) business card that also folds into a USB drive. That part is pretty cool: being able to make paper that’s also a USB drive (SwivelCard’s parent company, intelliPaper, makes digital-capable paper with many other uses). But do you really need to pay a bunch of money to have your business card get smart? Look, if the person you give your business card to is too lazy to look at the information and type your website into the computer, or use one of the many business card scanning apps already available, then you probably don’t wanna work with them anyways.

There are some borderline creepy aspects to SwivelCard as well. Once you give a card out, you can track where it is and see who accessed it when – kinda like if James Bond had a business card, which is kinda cool. And you can even change the data on the USB card remotely even after you’ve given the card out. I’d totally change the info after each time someone looked at it (since you can track that!) just to mess with people’s heads. SwivelCard isn’t officially out yet, but you can give them your email to be notified when the product’s Kickstarter begins. Unfortunately, I suspect the main thing you’re likely to discover from using SwivelCard is that most people are tossing your business card in the trash.

Aggravate Nails on Chalkboard: This app makes it so that when you drag your fingers across the screen it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. I didn’t bother trying this out (for obvious reasons), but honestly, anyone who has anything to do with this app, from developing it to downloading it, is a complete sociopath. These are the kinds of people who ruin society for everyone else and, given the opportunity and the power, would definitely burn it all to the ground. If he were around today, Emperor Nero would be the kind of jerk who downloaded this, and he might even have aggravated instead of fiddling while Rome burned if he’d been able to.

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iBeer: It’s not exactly fair to pick on an app that came out in 2007, but just because it came out in the beginning of the app era doesn’t preclude it from having to be dope. I mean, look at Super Mario Brothers: it’s still every bit as playable as it was when it came out in the 80s. Anyway, iBeer makes it look like your phone has beer in it and that you’re drinking the beer from your phone. I don’t know dude, you wanna drink fake beer? Just go buy some O’Doul’s. No app required.

Any Ghost Hunting App: I’m not gonna lie. I’m terrified of ghosts. I’ve had some pretty weird experiences that can’t really be explained. Whether or not they were actually linked to the disembodied spirits of dead people, I don’t really know. That said, I just can’t believe that your phone already has the technology to detect and record ghosts when it leaves the factory, and that you just need to download the right software to activate it. Know what I mean? If that was the case, Steve Jobs would still be terrorizing his employees from beyond the grave, on the daily, and Ouija boards would go out of business.

VIP Black: This one may actually be the stupidest of them all. VIP Black costs $1000 (okay, $999.99 – no joke) to download and members are “required to certify they are High Net Worth Individuals with assets and/or income in excess of £1 million.” And you know what you get for all that? Access to really expensive services. So you’re just paying a G so that you have the opportunity to pay lots of money for other stuff you don’t really need. VIP Black is basically just a badge that says, “What two thumbs and is super rich? This guy!” It should be called VIP Douche.

Leak: Not an app (yet), this website is basically Secret for those willing to remain a bit less anonymous – or, as a Valleywag reporter put it, for those stuck in middle school. Leak lets you send anonymous emails to anyone, including just a short description of who you are (like coworker or friend of a friend). It’s kind of a high tech way to say  “I like like you” if Floret requires too much commitment or interaction, or to be a real jerk to somebody without having the courage to back it up. While Secret can be an interesting source of anonymous information, Leak just seems mean-spirited and cowardly – even when it voices positive sentiments. Although the app urges people to use it for good, most of the sample leaks are fairly nasty, or would be better handled in person.

We know there are always more stupid apps than you’d think. What are some apps that have made you say d’oh lately?

Big shout out to Kia KokalitchevaKerry SkempAshley Dickinson, and all of my Twitter and Facebook peeps for helping me find these. 

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".