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The Strangest iPhone Apps

You’d have thought that turning the world’s neatest smartphone into a million-dollar whoopee cushion would have been enough for iPhone developers. Not a bit of it. While some coders have been busy creating games that mimic air traffic control, recreating Microsoft Word on a tiny screen or turning an iPhone into a race track, others have been thinking up some of the most bizarre things it’s possible to do with a mobile phone.

Here are five of the strangest:

iLickit Licks the Competition

One of the things that has made the iPhone so special is the way that users interact with it. A touch screen combined with an accelerometer means that you can operate the device with just fingers and wrists. For Halihow, the makers of iLickit, however, that’s not enough. They think that iPhone users should show their appreciation for the iPhone’s flexibility by operating it with their tongues.

The game pulls up a picture of a food item which players must then lick away in the fastest time possible. Commenting on a review which suggested that playing might not be very sanitary, the company’s blog suggested wrapping it with kitchen foil or cleaning it with an alcoholic wipe. It certainly sounds like alcohol was an integral part of the development process.

iLickit is billed as “the first ever game on the iPhone… for your tongue.” It would be nice to think it’s the last but with 60,000 downloads in three days, we might not be so lucky.

Flychat’s Flies Make Very Small Carrier Pigeons

If iLickit has any admirable creative element it’s the way in which the developers have tried to come up with an unusual way of operating the iPhone. “Everyone uses their fingers,” they must have thought. “What else can they use?” If they had come up with a better answer, their creativity might have been a bit more laudable. FlyChat does something similar to create a text-based version of a social media service that’s a cross between Twitter and ChatRoulette. Type a message, tag or theme it, and attach it to a fly. The fly will then buzz off to someone else’s app, delivering the message to a complete stranger.

That’s two odd elements in one. On the one hand, why would anyone want to send a message to a complete stranger — or read one sent by a complete stranger? And why would they want to attach the message to a fly? What was wrong with carrier pigeons? Or how about dogs? Flies aren’t the cutest messengers in the world and they’re more likely to carry disease than something you’d want to interact with.

And yet millions of people do read messages written by strangers on Twitter every day and flies do get everywhere. Even it seems into your mobile phone.

Holy Cow, That’s a Strange Idea!

FlyChat might be odd but it has the distinction of being complex. The developers have had to come up with categories, think of a way to send the messages to other phones and display them. And someone had to come up with the fly idea too. Programmer Andrew Kaluzniacki doesn’t appear to have given himself too much of a headache thinking of features for his iPhone app. Holy Cow displays a picture of a cow. Touch the screen, and the cow moos. That’s it. No chickens, no goats, not even a picture of a field. You get one cow and one moo (although there are no limits to the number of times you can play that moo.)

It would be nice to say that a moo was the worst sound you can get out of your iPhone, but there are, of course, the fart apps. At least the cow only moos.

Quick, Go Pee!

Not all strange ideas are bad though. RunPee is odd, but it’s a very good idea. The free service, based on a website, lets cinemagoers search for the film they’re about to watch. The app then tells them the best time to  nip out for a quick break without missing anything important. They’re told the cue, advised on how long they’ve got and can even read a synopsis of what they missed when they get back. And if they keep on drinking their gallon-sized buckets of soda, they can keep looking at their phone to learn the time of the next missable boring bit.

The next time a silhouette of someone’s head pops up while you’re watching your downloaded movie then, you can thank RunPee.

Help Ruben and Lullaby Stay Together

Other strange ideas are less useful but they do at least have the distinction of being beautiful. Opertoon’s Ruben and Lullaby is a kind of love story with an ending defined by the player. A couple are having a fight. Shake the iPhone and you can make one of the partners angry, forcing a reaction from the other. Stroke the screen, and you can calm them down. The images are made up of some neatly drawn graphics, turning the app into a kind of interactive comic strip with music that matches the mood of the characters.

As ideas go, this one couldn’t have come much odder. It would have been easier to see how the same concept could have been applied to a battle between a superhero and a supervillain: shake to land a blow; stroke to build up strength. Instead, we get the kind of relationship trouble that video gamers are more likely to turn to their iPhone to avoid.

And yet, the app itself is beautiful enough to be a winner, and who knows, it might even help some poor lover save his relationship — when he gets bored, puts down his phone and shows his partner some attention.

The app store is filled with racing games, fart machines, platform games and measuring devices. Many of them look roughly the same. It takes creativity to come up with a new idea, and even if not all of those ideas are useful, even the strangest can be their own source of new inspiration. Just steer clear of the cows.

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