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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Novelty apps are trip down memory lane worth taking

Baker Hall

Since the first iPhone hit shelves in 2007, app creators have used their creativity largely for the greater good, developing apps for a million different reasons and purposes. The creation of novelty apps was an invention that revolutionized the way apps would forever be defined.

Novelty apps are those designed with the sole purpose of entertainment, usually with a very limited scope of ability. These apps are everywhere, but they had a particular heyday in the early days of iPhone.

I remember looking at my mom’s iPhone 4s and downloading the flashlight app, which looked a lot like a flashlight complete with a power button. Spoiler alert: the button did nothing except click on and off. There was no turning on of a flashlight, and no light was given off by the phone. It was a showcase to the gullibility of humanity.

Another similar example is iBeer. This app looked like the typical iPhone home screen, except the screen looked like a full glass of beer. As the user raised and tilted the glass, the beer mimicked a glass being drunk.

Mel Magazine sat down with the creator of the app, Steve Sheraton, who at that time was a 37-year-old magician, to discuss the origins of the app.

“Apple started scouting for developers, and they approached me because I’d made a YouTube video where I made the phone look like a glass of beer,” Sheraton said.

Apple thought the trick would show off the new iPhone well, which led to its creation and subsequent place on the Top 10 of iPhone apps for 3 straight years.

Novelty apps get even more fun with the addition of sound. Last year, I was reintroduced to this category with the help of an unnamed fraternity brother. It was his twenty-first birthday, and he had pulled out his phone to start “whipping” us.

Much to my relief, he opened the app Pocket Whip, and the crack of a whip filled the room. There was a graphic of an Indiana Jones-style whip on the screen. I downloaded the whip immediately, and it makes me laugh on what may be an otherwise dull day.

Soundboard apps are a continuation of this category. A soundboard app features a number of buttons that range from just saying “yes” and “no” to the sound of a victory trumpet or a lightsaber opening.

These soundboard apps vary in usage but feature certain niches like Fart World, a soundboard app with 20 different fart sounds available, or TRUMP-IT, an app with soundbites of Donald Trump’s most famous catchphrases.

The best soundboard app I have found is dubbed 100’s of Buttons & Prank Sound which, according to the App Store, does feature “over 300 quality premium sounds” and allows for the perfect button for every situation. Some of the buttons are even touch-sensitive to the point that they play for as long as the button is held. For example, there is a “censor” button which perfectly mimics the sound of a network “bleep.”

These apps are good in theory, as a reaction sound is always a welcome addition to the conversation, but they are hard to execute, as by the time a person opens the app and clicks out of all the ads, the moment of time for the reaction has passed.

The mastery of these apps requires a careful touch, so a person must first memorize the placement of the correct buttons for maximum usage. It is difficult, but not impossible.

Society is ridden with the consequences of capitalism, but somehow, these apps withstand. They are completely free, with only a very few offering the option of paying to upgrade. Even the apps offering upgrades are still almost entirely usable without payment.

Novelty apps have a place in today’s world. They may have once been a phenomenon of the early 2010s, but the humor from that age is not entirely lost. Downloading a novelty app is a nostalgic way to remember and honor the past. Whether that remembrance is through the sound of a censoring bleep, a digital fart or a fake beer, it is worth the trip down memory lane.

About the Contributor
Lucy Hallmark
Lucy Hallmark, Opinion Editor
Lucy Hallmark is a sophomore biochemistry major from Summit, Mississippi. She currently serves as the Opinion Editor. [email protected]
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