I’ve been doing some business travel recently, and more is on the horizon. Typically I prefer to read, but it’s hard to enjoy a book when you are reading it in the ten-minute increments that exist between, say, getting to the gate and having to board your flight. Those little snippets of time seem much more suited to game playing on an iPhone or tablet.
I’ve got only a few games on my iPhone and tablet: solitaire, spider solitaire, Sudoku, and Tetris. As those choices reflect, I’m not much for games where I have to rescue adorable animals or fight barbarians or outwit wizards. I’m more of a puzzle person. I feel they help to keep me mentally sharp, and they also appeal to my stubborn vanity. Give me a spider solitaire deal that seems impossible, and I’ll try again and again until I figure it out.
I feel overwhelmed and hopeless when I go to the app store and try to sift through the thousands of game app options that are there, which is why I’ve stuck with old, tried-and-true selections. Hence, my question — are there good apps out there that I should add to my phone and tablet? Any good crossword or Scrabble apps, or other puzzle options that I haven’t found? So far, I’ve stuck to free games and endured the ads, but I’d be willing to pay for a few good games that would help pass the time while I’m cooling my heels at Gate B 31. Any suggestions would be most welcome.
What does it mean when an “app” is popular? Does it convey a deep message about social trends? Or, does it only indicate that some iPhone and iPad nerds liked the concept, or the price, or having a hot new “app” to yak endlessly about?
It may be worth asking that question, because the “Obama Clock” app has quickly shot to the top of the “app” charts. The “Obama Clock” app includes a running countdown, in days, hours, minutes, and seconds, to the next presidential inauguration. It also provides updated information on President Obama’s approval rating, the unemployment rate, the per-gallon cost of gasoline, and movement in a housing price index. The “Obama Clock” app is at the very top of the “reference” app sales — where it competes with the likes of the world atlas and other informational apps — and is in the top 50 apps overall.
It probably isn’t a good sign for the President that the “Obama Clock” app has done so well. It’s not like the information reported in the updates is good news that reflects well on his performance. Still, I wouldn’t read too much into the app’s popularity. A stampede of purchases by conservative iPhone users — the app costs only 99 cents — could easily skew the results. And the President and his reelection team can take comfort in the fact that the “Obama Clock” app still trails SPY mouse, Angry Birds, and Fruit Ninja. If the President were up against SPY mouse in November 2012, he might have more cause for immediate concern.
This BBC story caught my eye — about an iPhone app that consists of video and audio of speeches and statements by Benito Mussolini, the former Fascist dictator of Italy who was Hitler’s Axis ally during World War II. According to the story, it was the most popular iPhone download in Italy until it was removed from the market in the face of threats of legal action.
Groups have expressed concern that the popularity of the Il Duce app might presage a resurgence of the Fascist movement in Italy. I suppose that is possible, but I think it is equally plausible that young people just downloaded it because it is new, shocking, and a bit of a razz to watch black and white footage and listen to speeches of the comically strutting ex-dictator with the out-thrust jaw. I’m not an iPhone owner, but my perception is that many people with iPhones seem obsessed with “apps” and showing everyone what unusual “apps” they have. The Mussolini app may just feed into that obsession.
Still, it’s weird. In America, are there “apps” for offensive speeches by the likes of Joe McCarthy and George Wallace?