Are you old enough to remember life in the Stone Age? Of course, the Stone Age is that period of time where humanity had to survive without smartphones. Yes, those were hard times! How did we make it without smartphones and their gazillion wonderful apps? Well, alongside all the wonderful apps are some apps that are not only unhelpful, but they’re also downright terrible.
Sign Translator Gives Very Wrong Information
Word Lens is believed to be the future of translation software. With Word Lens, understanding something written in a foreign language is as simple as focusing your smartphone’s camera on it, then the app instantly translates the words. You never have to bother with gaining a rudimentary understanding of a foreign language, and you get to be the pretentious tourist who holds his smartphone up to literally everything in his path. A win-win, right?
The problem is: There are many, ranging from comical broken English to misinforming you about traffic laws.
The app author admits that he didn’t consult anyone fluent in Spanish while creating the app or designing the demonstration video. The other big problem is that it attempts to translate individual words instead of phrases in context. Using Bing to translate something reveals that translating word by word shouldn’t be used to inform you about important things like safety regulations, medicine labels, or ordering food.
Electronic Key App Turns Smartphones into Lock Picks
Opening doors is SOOOOO difficult! Fortunately, KISI plans to use smartphone technology to ease the burden.
The KISI digital key app relies on an electronic interface between your phone and your locked doors, eliminating the need for keys. If someone wants to enter your home while you’re away, you use your phone to activate the app. KISI co-founder Maximilian Schuetz boasted to the BBC, “You can be in Bermuda and give someone access in New York.” You can also give friends or family access via their own smartphones, avoiding the major inconvenience of requesting permission to enter.
The problem is: Well, the people likely to lose their keys might also be just as likely to misplace their phone. But they’re being asked to pay hundreds of dollars to solve a problem that could be solved with a biker key chain that clips onto your belt loop.
Consider the risk of opening your door remotely while you’re not in a position to verify who’s actually in front of it. Since the app can enable other smartphone users to unlock your doors, any person with clearance can unlock your door from virtually anywhere. Want your mom to feed the cat while you’re away? How long did it take her to learn to send intelligible texts once she reluctantly traded in her flip phone? Now, you’re trusting her to have your digital door un-locker bopping around inside her huge purse? Further, consider that smartphones are becoming the primary target for hackers.
Cry Translator Makes You Guess How to Soothe Your Sobbing Baby
Becoming a new parent is tough. The only language Tiny You speaks is scream. Oh God, the baby’s crying! Is he hungry? Is his diaper full? Did he swallow my car keys? All crying sounds the same. What can you do?
Introducing the Cry Translator app. It boasts that after analyzing just ten seconds of recorded crying, it can tell you exactly what your baby wants or needs. Amazing!
The problem is: For one, it has a one-star rating on iTunes. For two, all of the “reviews” by reputable tech sources are just parroting the developer’s product announcement. Everyone’s quite keen on announcing that the app exists, but no one claims it actually works – except for Dr. Antonio Portugal Ramirez, whose clinical pediatric research determined that the app’s suggestions are 96 percent accurate. But he happens to be the leader of the app’s development.
Reviews of the app report that recording the same cry twice often results in completely different results, or that the app encourages users to overfeed their babies or change their diapers at apocalypse-inducing rates. So at worst the thing is giving outright incorrect parenting advice; at best it’s using your iPhone as an unnecessary middleman for the natural instincts/guesswork you already have. We recommend just following the old “try everything until something works” method that worked for your parents.
Bird Song Apps Mess with the Birds
Birds are nature’s most annoyingly egocentric celebrities. We struggle for the perfect picture, and they ignore us. They won’t hold still for even one second. They focus on their own selfish need to feed themselves without becoming someone else’s food.
But now, thanks to the lovely people at places like iSpiny, bird-watchers can download apps that play various types of bird song. This helps you learn how to differentiate songbirds based on their calls. It didn’t take long for bird lovers to figure out that these apps, combined with the high-tech “volume” feature of many smartphones, doubled as the perfect way to say, “Hold still!” Bird-watching has never been easier.
The problem is: Easier doesn’t always equate to better, at least according to the wildlife experts who came forward to tell people to put away their phones, lest they usher in an ornithological apocalypse.
Birds use their songs to communicate with each other, and humans blasting that noise all willy-nilly causes serious confusion inside their little bird brains. Consequences of this include causing birds to refuse to feed their young, relocate their nests, or forget to nest entirely, or even get themselves eaten by predators when the apps lure them out from their hiding places.
The worst is that the apps can act as a sort of anti-aphrodisiac. Birds may unable to mate, as they interpret the phone noises as other mating birds invading their territory. And that leads them to aggressively approach the phone bearers. Yes, humans have discovered a misuse for a phone app so stupid that it makes birds want to physically fight.