Guest Column: Really smart apps are in demand

Steve Corbin

“SC” was very good to me. I thank him, as I wasn’t necessarily the best choir boy this past year. Oh, “who is SC,” you ask? Santa Claus. We have the same initials. We’ve called each other “SC” since I was a little boy.

What did SC bring this old man? An iPhone6. This `smartphone’ makes my old crank-operated cell phone look rather antique, kinda’ like me.

When I carted by iPhone6 to “the store” to get my contacts transferred, the wet-behind-the-ears looking salesman, Caleb, also asked me what apps I’d like to download. Knowing little about apps, I inquired. I was impressed by his memorized pitch line: “Mobile apps are software applications designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. They are available through native distribution platforms.”

“Excuse me sir,” I said, “but, what’s a native distribution platform?” “Oh,” replied Caleb, “that’s a fancy phrase we geeks use for the word `store,’ so we sound smarter than you and you’ll believe every word we say.”

My next stupid (so I learned) question was, “How many apps are available?” He quipped, “Well, dweeb, Google Play has 1.6 million, Apple App Store markets 1.5 million, Amazon Appstore sells 400,000, Windows Phone Store distributes 340,000 and BlackBerry has about 130,000.”

“So, oh smart one, of the approximate 3.9 million apps that are available, where do I start?” His retort: “My dearest dork, since you have an iPhone6, that’s an Apple product and therefore you only have 1.5 million apps to choose from in 20 different categories.” Pulling an old trick out of my teaching days hat I replied, “Oh, yah, I knew I had an Apple. I just wanted to see if you knew your stuff, snot-nose.”

A skit during the Nov. 14 live radio broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion” was the inspiration for my first wanted app. It’s called the Flat App. Caleb listened.

The Flat App is used when you are around people who express that, shall I say, turbulent feeling. You can sense it when their stomach is feverishly growling and then you hear, either in a squeaky sound, snap, pop or a rather rambunctious roar, … a-hum … as the animal husbandry majors at Iowa State have learned to call it, “enteric fermentation.” Flatulence, if you will. Other names have been used to describe this event, but I’m limited to 700 words in this column.

As the Flat App script on the Garrison Keillor show goes, “that sound is not amorphous. It’s specific. Make them take ownership of their flatulence when you have a Flat App. So you know whose it was. Knowledge is power.”

Yes, wouldn’t having a Flat App be handy, especially when you are in an elevator or at a funeral or wedding and that moment occurs? You wouldn’t have to say, “was that you?” Just look at your smartphone (it is called `smart’ for some reason) and it would tell you it was Chris and Pat. Two guilty parties on that innocuous event!

Caleb looked at me, smiled and said, “I’ll have to check into that one, dorkus.”

Knowing the United States has political campaigns that exist 365 days a year and the campaigns start three years in advance of when the election is to be held, I kindly inquired of Caleb, “do you have a LL-POF app?” I knew the tables got turned and I had him when he said, “what’s that?”

“Oh, smarty pants, an LL-POF app stands for Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire! When you are around a politician where they exude a lot of fermentation, but of a different kind than detected with the Flat App, your app will immediately tell you whether truth is being uttered.” Caleb shook his head in disbelief and walked away.

I’ve also been told this LL-POF app also applies to reading a newspaper column. You can scan your smartphone over the newsprint, and wah-lah, you know whether it’s the truth or just some gas.

My iPhone6 is ready to go, two new apps and all. Need some app advice? See Caleb.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year!

(Dr. Steven B. Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing for the University of Northern Iowa. He is a 1966 graduate of Nevada High School.)