You’ve all seen the ads that promises a lot, but you just know it won’t deliver. You know you’ll spend about 3 minutes with the app and then the novelty wears off, so why bother with them?
Well, some of them are actually quite fun, and free, so what’s the harm? Have a quick laugh, then uninstall it if you don’t think you’ll get that laugh again. Today we are taking a look at novelty apps for the Android.
These are the type of apps that you use to fool your friends that your phones camera can perform some things that are just physically impossible, such as the Naked Scanner, that supposedly scans through your clothes or the Android XRay, that scans your bones with the help of the camera.
Novelty factor: To be able to fool your friends into thinking your phone can do something it cannot do and at the same time “reveal” something about that friend.
What it does: It is basically a zoomed in image of an xray, a naked woman or something similar. When you tilt the phone, the picture pans around in the opposite direction, if you move the phone at the same time, it looks like you are “scanning” the person or object.
Pros: Quick, cheap fun, if you do it right and in the right setting, especially if you have friends that are less technically inclined.
Cons: Being a still image, it is quite revealing that it isn’t the person you’re trying to fool that you are “scanning”. It is hard to maneuver and takes practice, so don’t expect to download it at the pub and just whip it out. Most of the apps I found were made by the same person under several company names (such as Atticapp for Naked Scanner and KreCi.net for X-Ray Scanner) and is filled with misleading ads, making you click them thinking it’s a function of the app. It also has a false TOS in the beginning, asking you to accept an app that will put ads on your phone, sending the revenue to the developer, this can be declined without breaking the app, opposed to what it says in the text.
My rating: 1/10, too simple, too detectable and the scamming with the ads draws my attention away from the fun that novelty apps should be about and almost made me frustrated.
Akinator/Cleverbot type chatbots
This type of app lets you “chat” with your phone, and it will respond to you based on an advanced artificial intelligence that learns over time from everyone that chats with it. In the case of Cleverbot, it is based on the Alice AI, a hyperadvanced AI that has the learning capability of a 5-year-old human child.
Novelty factor: Depending on the type of chatbot. For example, Akinator will try to guess the person you’re thinking about in 20 questions or less, and you can think about any person (real or fictional, existing or one you just made up) and most of the times he will get it right. Cleverbot will respond in as human way as it can and at a first glance it is hard to tell if it is really a program or if there is someone responding at the other end.
What it does: It processes the answer you give it through the AI, takes previous correct responses and tries to match the correct response for the situation. If you tell it that it was wrong, it will try to correct it in the future, unless enough people have told it that it was the right response.
Pros: Every experience is different, you will rarely see the same responses twice in a row. The learning capability makes for great fun, if you have the patience to teach your chatbot. You can use it alone for fun or company, or you can use some of them, like Akinator, along with friends.
Cons: Can be a bit time consuming and the AI is far from perfected at this point, meaning you will get some very non-human responses from time to time.
My rating: 8/10, I find it amazing how far our technology have reached, when your computer or phone can act this human or predict you so well. I also find it extremely funny to fool the AI. Since it is so human, it has also inherited the human flaw of gullibility, meaning that you can convince it that something that you know is wrong is right, if you are convincing enough. Since the level of the AI usually is around the equivalent of a 3-5-year-old human, it is as simple as telling a child that red is blue and yellow is green, if you tell it convincingly. I also used the Akinator with friends, where I would ask them the questions Akinator asks and just push the response my friend would give me and then “telepathically” tell my friend who they are thinking of. You can have fun for hours with just a piece of text.
This type of app have a single sound that it will play when you are performing an action. Most notable example would be the Whip Sound app, as made famous by Big Bang Theory.
Novelty factor: A quick, unexpected response to what your friends are doing at the moment, for comedic value.
What it does: Just as announced, it will play a sound when you do something with your phone, such as tilting it fast like a whip for the Whip Sound app.
Pros: When used in the right setting and with the right timing, you and your friends will fold double with laughter. Easy to use, doesn’t take much resources from the phone and some even have widgets, making the soundbytes available very quickly when needed.
Cons: Novelty factor wears of quickly, especially when overused. We all have that friend that think (s)he’s funny when overusing a gag, and these apps are no different. Use with moderation, or you’ll get annoyance rather than laughter.
My rating: 7/10, I’ve always been a fan of quick, witty and well-timed humour. Below you will find a short instructional video on where, when and how such app would be appropriate, courtesy of Big Bang Theory: