App / Digital / PR

App Fab or Fail?

The world has gone App mad.
There is somewhere in the region of 2000 Apps being released each day.
There are almost 1 million Apple Apps, slightly less for Android, and way behind, but catching up quick, is Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, with 130,000 and counting. And later this month (or early next month) the Apple App store is expecting to celebrate its 30 billionth download. I’ll just repeat that fact – the 30 billionth download.

The mind boggles.

It’s not so much a case of what you can get an App for, as what you can’t.
As you can imagine, and have most likely experienced, there’s a lot of ill-conceived, badly-designed Apps out there. An awful lot.

One to add to that list is the Scottish Governments ‘Drinking Mirror’ App.


Scottish Government 'Drinking Mirror' App

Scottish Government ‘Drinking Mirror’ App

Just launched, the idea behind it is to help women ‘Drop a Glass Size’ by cutting down on their alcohol intake.
The App aims to do this by taking a picture of you, then ageing it according to how old you are and how much you drink.


Scottish Government 'Drinking Mirror' App on iPad

Scottish Government ‘Drinking Mirror’ App on iPad

As you can see the results are more comic than cautionary. If you’re going to spend money talking to people about their health, they have to take your advice seriously for your message to get through. Not sure this delivers on that count.

The App looks as if it was rushed out in a hurry. As this is a government initiative, that wouldn’t surprise me. There is most likely a directive somewhere with the perfectly laudable aim of “…exploiting mobile communication platforms to engage and inform the public of the health dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption…”. A great PR story for the Minister for Public Health.

The trouble is they were in such a rush to launch, that not only does the App fail to deliver in terms of user experience, it falls down technically. It is currently not available on Apple, only Android. Who took the decision to launch? And why? All you’re going to do is annoy a sizeable chunk of the people you’re trying to target. That’s poor campaign planning.

Next App up is App App

In a nutshell, it enables you to go into a restaurant and use your mobile to find out the most popular items on the menu – that’s starters, mains, desserts and even drinks. App screenshot App screenshot

In other words you are crowdsourcing what you eat.
It’s the sort of idea that could have appeared in Brave New World.

To me eating is one of life’s greatest and most fundamental pleasures. The experimentation. The anticipation. The excitement. It’s little wonder that food and sex are often compared. The idea that you need to sit in a restaurant gazing at your mobile in order to decide what to eat, both terrifies and saddens me in equal measures. And what about that ever-so-slowly-dying art known as conversation. Heaven help us. also comes complete with one of the silliest instructional films ever. What sort of person needs to crowdsource which cake to eat?

And while we’re on the subject of technology meets food, London restaurant Inamo has taken things to a whole new level.
It boasts of “…a dining experience like no other…”. Indeed.

Interactive E-tables double up as computer screens. Haven’t you just been sat at one of them all day?.
It gives you “…complete control over your dining experience…”. Didn’t you always have that?

You can play games.
You can watch what’s happening in the kitchen via ‘Chef Cam’ – a grainy CCTV feed from the kitchen (it reminded me of Crimewatch).
And you can even – I kid you not – choose from a range of interactive tablecloths.
And here it is in all its rather charmless glory.


Sorry Inamo, you won’t be seeing me through your doors any day soon – I prefer my gastronomy gimmick free.

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