The apps I need to create


The magic number is four. Four glasses of wine. That’s all it takes to get me to start inventing smartphone apps. After four glasses of wine, my apps seem to be perfectly elegant solutions to the things I kvetch about when I drink.

I haven’t quite hit el numero quatro this evening, so the apps aren’t flowing just yet. But they must be getting close, because I’m already starting to ruminate about my past inventions.

A girlfriend and I once polished off a couple bottles of champagne and then dreamed up a more-intelligent matchmaking app called “Pillow.” It’s based on Zillow. Prospects are geospatially identified, the way they are on Tinder and Grinder. They can be filtered by their features, the way you can search for a house by the number of bedrooms it has. This guy went to Harvard. The guy down the street is a musician. They can also be filtered by “cost.” The musician actually has a fiancee in another state. You’ll discover her when he disappears and you stay up all night on social media, trying to figure out what the hell happened. The Harvard guy keeps active profiles on 6 other dating apps.  You’ll find them after you get a text message from another woman in the middle of the night. 

Pillow’s only major hurdle, at this point, is that we don’t yet have the dating equivalent of the MLS, the database that powers Zillow. It’s a minor setback, though. Surely, any rational woman would happily contribute to such a database, for the good of the rest of us. And for that matter, I’m certain men have a similar need for quality information about the true “cost” of a potential match. Let’s face it: dating past the age of 30 is hard. We could use all the data we can find.

There is also an outfit recording app, which I haven’t named yet. It’s the brainchild of a few glasses of wine I always have during my monthly gatherings with a professional women’s group. Apps like it already exist, recording what you’re wearing on a certain day so that you can avoid wearing the same thing to see the same people. But my concept would improve on that model, adding useful features like recording whether my hair was up or down, and whether I actually felt fat all day and promised myself I wouldn’t wear that dress again until I’d lost 7 pounds.

The outfit app’s major hurdle is that I just don’t want to admit, out loud, to other humans, that I care so much about my appearance. If there are any humans left on the planet who haven’t figured it out yet, I’d like to somehow keep it a secret. So that concept needs work. Maybe I could just be the ghost inventor.

Another girlfriend and I have cooked up the “Best Friend” app, which also has yet to be named. It’s the smartphone version of the girlfriend you call when you need someone to talk some sense into you about a man. She presents you with a yes/no questionnaire after each date. “Did he … arrive on time? Make reservations? Hold the door?” The questions begin with basic manners but eventually shift toward critical behaviors which are known to eventually translate into relationship success or failure. “Was he kind to the cab driver? Did he make eye contact with the waitress? Did he speak kindly about his ex-girlfriend?” If you submit too many adverse answers after any given date, the Best Friend app tells you not to go out with the guy again — because let’s face it, the reason you have the app in the first place is that although you know better, you’ll probably go out with him again unless there is an intervention.

The drawback of the Best Friend app is that the questions have to be tailored to each user’s values and preferences, which means there’s a lot of back-end development work that needs to happen. It could be rolled out in a beta version that speaks to my preferences, but I can’t imagine that it would be helpful with those settings for more than 6 percent of women. The bigger hurdle, though, is that the Best Friend might be too easy to avoid. My human girlfriends can be easy to avoid if I don’t want to listen to their sound judgment. With an app, avoidance is just a swipe away. So there might need to be some paternalistic settings built in, things that prevent the user from shooting herself in the foot. That app is still in the veritable story-boarding stage, and I think it needs more time there.

The problem with all of these apps is the magic number. After four glasses of wine, there is only one glass left in the bottle, so you might as well just finish it. And after five glasses of wine, the ideas take a turn. Or I write them down but they’re illegible in the morning.

Imagine my notebook the morning after Pillow was born: “Pillow Talk is live chatting!!!” What?

Or the day after the Best Friend: “Calc. avg. time to return phone call, relate to # of dates so far.” Oh boy. We’re using formulas now?

I think I need another glass of wine.

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