MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

See What Cells: The Week in Phone Apps | February 8, 2011

Given today’s technological climate, in which celebrity feuds start and end on Twitter and 83 percent of prostitutes use Facebook, it’s neither secret nor surprise that iPhone apps — the games and widgets tailor-made for Apple’s cellular service — are big business for savvy social mediators. Take Tapulous, a self-made leader in social apps most known for its series of Tap Tap Revenge games: the company reports $1 million in sales per month. Even individuals, like Trism creator Steve Demeter, can make quick, easy money with relatively zero start-up costs — Demeter banked $250,000 in two months for his $5 game.

Still, as myriad smartphone apps — some practical, others preposterous — continue to flood the marketplace, there’s always the nagging question of what should and should not be accomplished using cellular technology. For whatever reason, this week seems particularly rich with weird apps: check out below a shortlist of the strangest new ways to trick out your cell.

TeamWork Mobile/Workforce Mobile Employee.
Aimed at the healthcare industry, retail, manufacturing and other service-driven businesses, the TeamWork Mobile smartphone app — from human capital management company ScheduleSource — will allow workers to view their weekly work schedule, thereby enabling an easy way to swap shifts. Employee actions still require approval from a manager, but TeamWork aims to do away with the pesky minutia of everyday shift scheduling: calling other employees to find someone to “cover” a timeslot, burdening managers with the prospect of a missed shift, and so on. Meanwhile, Workforce Mobile Employee, according to its designers at the Kronos company, gives managers a way to “monitor operations, resolve exceptions, and respond quickly to employee requests such as approving timecards and granting time-off requests.” It also allows workers to punch in and punch out using their phones, a novel approach that could eliminate work-time adjustments when employees clock in too early or too late. This app could create a small revolution in service industries — so long as all members of a team are on board, and embrace the use of their smartphone as opposed to disliking how much it might control their workweek.

Confession: A Roman Catholic App.
Easily among the holiest of smartphone apps, Confession was approved earlier today by the Catholic Church. It allows Catholics to confess their sins using their cell phones from any location in the world, and then to receive corresponding acts of contrition to atone for their wrongdoings. Confession creator Little iApps maintains that its app is not a strict replacement for in-person confession, but rather an aid to help Catholics keep track of their sins as a way of avoiding them in the future. Coming on the heels of Pope Benedict’s World Communications Day speech — during which he encouraged the Church to make “good use of their presence in the digital world” — the $1.99 Confession tool might represent a firm foot in new ground for a religion often criticized for facing backward. But considering that cell phones often play host to sinful behaviors — sexting, drunk dialing and picture messaging among them — perhaps this faith-fueled app represents somewhat of a conflict of interest.

Continue reading for apps dealing with the Beatles, Justin Bieber and illegal immigration.

LOVE.
A rare and coveted free app, this Beatles-based tool is more a promotional effort than anything else. Downloading allows users to preview songs from the Cirque de Soleil LOVE show, watch video from its amazing Las Vegas residency, and watch clips of a documentary titled Altogether Now which follows the creation of the show. Mobile Roadie, who designed the app, is using it as a way to spread the word about the highly-praised Beatles/Cirque de Soleil collaboration in conjunction with its continued worldwide touring, full-length soundtrack and aforemention documentary. It also arrives just months after the Beatles catalog went public on iTunes — so even though it took decades, perhaps the Fab Four has finally sold out.

Bieber Yourself.
Created by the tech-smart team at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, the Bieber Yourself app is pure, stupid fun. It allows users to take their own picture and endow themselves with Justin Bieber’s infamous (and now ubiquitous) side-swiped haircut. Given that the kid has been literally everywhere in the past month — on almost every talk show, in a Super Bowl commercial, on the Super Bowl halftime stage, and in movie theaters nationwide this Friday — you might as well put him the one place he hasn’t: right atop your own head.

Smuggle Truck: Operation Immigration.
Though criticized as being outrageously racist, this iPhone app — from Boston-based Owlchemy Labs — is a game in which players race through the U.S.-Mexican border with a truck full of purported illegal immigrants, earning a score based on the number of immigrants “saved.” And in the grand tradition of mother-disapproved video games like Grand Theft Auto, Smuggle Truck also encourages reckless abandon and carnage: users can win the coveted “Smugglers’ Run” award for “pedal-to-the-medal speed-run driving, with a minimum of one safe passenger.” The app has yet to be approved by Apple — but if the iPhone corp says yes, the complex and contentious issue of illegal immigration will be available in cartoon form this March.

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