Neil deGrasse Tyson wants you to put your smartphone down. The iconic astrophysicist and current director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium spoke last week at Washington’s MIRCon security conference about how the country is focusing too much on apps. “I love me some apps, don’t get me wrong here,” Tyson explained. “But society has bigger problems than what can be solved with your next app--in transportation, energy, and health.”
“We’re a sleepy nation, right now. I want us to be a nation of innovation,” he later said.
We're guessing he had apps like these--all geared toward solving smaller problems--in mind.
Yo (Android, iOS)
The massively popular app, which took all of eight hours to develop, lets users message each other with the word “Yo” at the touch of a button. Its launch was met with massive-eyerolling and considerable snickering--but over 100 million Yos have been exchanged and it’s raised roughly $1.5 million from investors so far?
BlackV Club (not yet released)
“You can have any shirt you want,” the website reads. “As long as it’s a black v-neck.” Inc. spoke to BlackV Club founders Edward Lando and Yagil Burowski back in August, and found that their app--which will allow users to buy black v-necks (and only black v-necks) at the touch of a button--is a completely serious venture. “There are too many options,” Lando insisted. “We think the future won't have so many options.”
Washboard (Android, iOS)
Charging $26.99 for $20 in quarters since June 2014.
I Am Rich (Android, iOS)
Ah, the infamous $999 iOS app. Eight buyers were able to discover its true purpose--a red jewel sitting in the middle of your screen--before Apple pulled it from the app store. Luckily, it’s been recreated--and anyone can take advantage of the "status" it brings, because it’s now free for both iPhone (under the name “You Are Rich”) and Android.
TD4W (Android, iOS)
Subtitled “A Party in Your Pants,” TD4W has one extremely simple function. It requires no buttons--simply open the app to hear your phone playing the hook from the hit song “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. So Yo took eight hours to develop? TD4W took 45 minutes. One of the co-founders, Abram Dawson, is a venture capital associate.
99 Bottles! (iOS)
The free app displays 99 beer bottles on the screen, sings “99 Bottles of Beer” in a computer-generated voice and removes a bottle after each verse. We’re not sure what happens when it finishes, and we're not going to wait around to find out. But if you happen to know, could you tell us in the comments?