There’s an app for that

MOBILE PHONE APPS: Some are more useful than others.

I HAVE 11 years to live. This I know because my husband’s iPhone told me so. The disconcerting fact surfaced when Marcus said ‘put your forefinger here,’ pointing at his phone’s camera lens.

When he hit a button on the screen, the lens emitted a light and up flashed a message to say that my heartbeat was 83 beats per minute.

‘Is that good?’ I asked. ‘Well, it’s normal for someone of your age,’ he replied. But the app that allowed him to measure my heartbeat – Cardiio – also indicated that the 83 bpm figure meant that I could only expect to live until 83, and am not sure this was something I wanted to be told.

Later, Google informed me that the vast number of heartbeat and blood pressure apps available for iPhones and Android devices are wildly inaccurate and are about as much use as a walking stick to a walrus.

Of much greater use to me is a fantastic app called PlantSnap, which uses your mobile’s camera to identify thousands of plants. It not only names them, but tells one how to care for them.

Until I downloaded it my knowledge of plants was pretty dismal, but now I know the names of all the greenery and flowers on our balcony, and I’ve become hooked on photographing all manner of things growing in various locations around our apartment.

It was through this app that I discovered that the most prolific shrub in the area – the Oleander – is also the most deadly. There is a story that in Spain, in the times of French occupation by Napoleon’s troops, an invitation to share a meal was extended by the Spanish to French soldiers. In the preparation of the meat, peeled Oleander cuttings were used as skewers to roast it, resulting in the death of many of the Napoleonic troops.

I then wondered whether the app could be tricked. Yes it can. I snapped a pic of Chris, a bartender at Benidorm’s Company Bar, and it identified him as a rose. He laughed out loud when I said ‘Be grateful it didn’t say you were a pansy!’

After I downloaded PlantSnap, I went in search of other apps that would give me as much pleasure, but nothing – save the iShaver – appealed to me. It’s basically a virtual electric shaver, and emits a loud buzzing sound. I told Marcus, who has been cultivating his beard for years, to shut his eyes. When he did I pressed my phone to his chin and shouted ‘your facial fuzz is extremely annoying and I’m getting rid of it!’ His eyes snapped open in a panic, and for a moment I thought I’d get the beating of my life.

Another fun app for those who don’t value their smartphones as much as they should is called Send Me To Heaven (SMTH). To make it work, you simply hurl your phone skywards and it calculates the height of the throw. The blurb for this Android app says: ‘You can challenge your friends to see who gets the higher score, that is, until your phone breaks.’

Even if I had an Android phone, I’d certainly give that one a miss!

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Barry Duke


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