Best & Worst New Apps
The best new app I’ve discovered in ages is still in its infancy, but everyone I’ve shown it to wants it. WordLens is free. You hold your phone over anything from a menu to a road sign and it’s instantly translated into your language on-screen, like something out of Star Trek. At the moment there aren’t many languages and it’s still buggy – I let a friend’s child use it on her menu and it offered her ‘Sodomized Vegetables’, but generally it works and you get a good sense of what you’re looking at.
It seems only a few weeks ago that everyone was talking about the Uber taxi app, but it’s all going pear-shaped quickly. I have to say that after sampling five Uber cabs in different countries they’re not necessarily the best alternative, especially if you have bags or you’re in a hard-to-find street – plus, two of our five cabs were actually disgusting. This is the problem of a switch to the ‘Amateur Economy’, where anyone can rent out a car or a flat (AirB&B is under fire for having no safety regulations), but in times of hardship smart new ideas emerge.
I didn’t think I’d find another game as good as The Room, but ‘Monument Valley’ comes pretty close. It’s stunning to look at and soothing to listen to, but too easy – more please, and harder next time! I’m amazed the MC Escher estate didn’t sue the game. They’re very litigious, and once sued me (but that’s another story).
The most horrible idea for a new app is Resy, already popular in New York. It’s a ticket scalper for restaurants. How much are you willing to pay to get into the Chiltern Firehouse (er…nothing – Admin) or the Shard’s overpriced, naff bling-bars? Resy gets you a booking for an advance fee, and the more popular the table, the more expensive it’ll be.
Co-creator Ben Leventhal attempts to justify his money-making opportunism by classing restaurants as entertainment. Will booking dinner via a scalper catch on in London? At least it will fill ‘celebrity’ restaurants with the kind of bridge & tunnel gawkers who eat with their forks and take selfies with Eastenders actors, leaving the interesting, sensibly-priced places for those of us who care about good food and company.
Continuing this horrible trend, the ‘Mentions’ app is garnering attention for inviting A-listers to share their thoughts with us plebs, although their selection of Ed Sheeran and Kim Kardashian as people we’re fascinated by makes me long for the release that death will bring.