App-y Days

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: Lifestyle Issue: April 2014
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Local pride? There’s a smartphone- or tablet-based gizmo for that.

You get your olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill, your sausages from The Pork Shop and your wardrobe from Frances, but what about those glowing rectangles glued to your hands? Your smartphone and tablet could use a little Arizona love, too, in the form of these locally-developed software applications. Check out these variously useful, touching, polarizing and surprisingly fun Valley tech offerings.

Like some southwestern spawn of Yelp and a daily deals site, Whistl gives users daily discounts from Valley restaurants, from chains to mom-and-pops. Offers are date- and time-specific, but can yield big-time savings, like $6 Moscow mules at Ocean Prime or $5 soft shell crab sandwiches at Roka Akor. Search for deals at your regular haunts or check the app’s map to find new bargains around you. Free. Available on iTunes and Google Play.

Monkey Wars
Some Make-A-Wish kids want to meet a celebrity or go somewhere exotic. Ryan Cottor wanted to design an app. Nine volunteer video game designers helped grant his wish last July, when the then-12-year-old debuted Monkey Wars. The first app in Make-A-Wish history, Monkey Wars is a mobile game set on an island kingdom that a monkey alliance defends from human invaders. Free. Available on iTunes.

Ugly Meter
This controversial app, discussed everywhere from local news to Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show, snaps and scans a photo of your face to analyze its attractiveness. The two Gilbert creators admit it merely spews random scores and insults (we scored a 4 out of 10 one day and a 6 on another, while a colleague’s coffee mug rated a 7.5), but the “pro” app ($4.99) purports real analysis based on the “golden ratio” of physical beauty. A version that assessed babies’ faces was removed from app stores. Because that’s crossing a line. 99 cents. Available on iTunes, Google Play and free on Kindle.

American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona: Stop SB 1070
A politicized pot-stirrer, this app aims to arm citizens with knowledge of their rights and a way to report abuses of Senate Bill 1070, Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal-immigration act. It includes an explanation of the bill; advice on what to do if you’re stopped in a car, on the street, at home or in jail; and an incident report form to send to the ACLU. Free. Available on iTunes and Google Play.

My Mountain of Debt
Finally, a way to make grown-up stuff fun: This app turns paying off your debt into a video game. Input your arrears and meet Sam, an intrepid, axe-wielding ant who chops away at the mountain of your debt and spins the progress wheel to show how far you’ve come. Incrementally conquer the mountain with each payment on your credit card, car loan, student loan, mortgage, hospital bill... or old gambling habit. 99 cents. Available on iTunes and Google Play.