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Remembering the hilariously rubbish apps from the early iPhone

How did we live like this

Remembering the hilariously rubbish apps from the early iPhone
29 January 2018

On 29 June 2007, Apple released the first iteration of the iPhone, a gadget that would go on to change the world of consumer electronics forever. 

Looking back at the OG iPhone now would no doubt make the average 14-year-old recoil in disgust. To access the internet when away from Wi-Fi you had to rely on a 2G connection (at a time when 3G was becoming the standard), the camera was terrible, the battery life was rubbish and it was still eye-wateringly expensive. Indeed, factions of the tech industry had written Apple’s new device off as a failure before it had even hit shelves. 

But it had a touch screen! Which you could pinch! And tap! And scroll! It was a phone and an iPod in one, and turning it on its side displayed your music library in that lovely Cover Flow format. The physical keyboard was dead, as was the stylus. This was the future. 

As it turned out, it wasn’t the physical hardware that would really transform the way in which we use our phones, but the arrival of the App Store a year later. All of a sudden, the possibilities were endless. The iPhone could play games, give us the news, stream TV shows, edit photos, identify songs and fuel hours of Facebook-based procrastination. As Apple would delight in telling us, there was an app for everything. 

There have been more than 2.2 million apps released on the iOS store, and when we look back at the iPhone’s first decade it’s the apps that have turned it into a pocketable supercomputer. However, a very large of chunk of them – particularly in the early days – have been absolute horseshit. For every Snapchat, there is a 69p virtual lighter. And so, to celebrate this lifechanging device we’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane.

Here are some of the most shamelessly crap apps ever released. 

Electric shaver

A smartphone that doubles as an electric razor when you spontaneously decide it’s time to de-beard on the train? In this crazy world we live in, rule nothing out. But the plethora of shaver apps contained within the App Store don’t have that kind of functionality. Instead, they’re intended for playing hilarious pranks!!!!! on your mates. Boot the app, trigger the (amazingly realistic!!!!) shaving sound effect of your choosing, hold the phone to your face with the screen pointing outwards, and just smirk as everyone hysterically falls to the floor. Novelty value meant a ton of early adopters downloaded one of these. Novelty value is bad. 


Nobody – and I mean n.o.b.o.d.y – had an iPhone at the birth of the App Store and didn’t pretend at least once that it was a pint. It was a rite of passage. What’s the point of your flashy new toy having an in-built gyroscope and accelerometer if you can’t use them to make it look like you’re necking a cold one by tilting it towards your face? No need to go to the fridge when you have a pretend beer in your pocket that only occasionally crashes. Halcyon days for technology.

I Am Important

According to its description on the App Store, I Am Important does two things:

  1. Shows the world how important you are
  2. Makes you feel important

So, what we’re looking at here is an app that lets you create an entirely fake life for yourself. Fake contacts, fake events and fake notifications. You can even let it post to your Facebook page so your friends – of which you definitely have none if you’re downloading this app – can see how pretend important you are. You must make use of this feature, though, because otherwise, unless you volunteer to have your phone stolen, there is no way of anyone but you knowing about this new-found socialite status. It’s almost as if the app is… a little bit pointless?

Will You Marry Me? 

Pretty sure this one is just a joke and stuff but, what if it isn’t? If you think every proposal has been done, that originality is now impossible, then why not be the first person on the planet to ask the love of your life to marry you by jabbing your glowing mobile phone in their bewildered face and asking them to tap “yes” (they won’t) on a wedding ring graphic that looks like was designed on Clipart? Short of shaving your partner’s head in their sleep and writing “Will U Marry Me???” on its surface, it’s difficult to think of a more terrible way of popping the question. 


Type the word “lighter” into the App Store search bar and an estimated 40584 virtual lighter clones will present themselves. Some have 3D graphics, while others offer a multitude of different coloured flames. But the thing that unites them all is that lighter apps are – without exception – utterly rubbish. Some of them cost actual money, too. For less than it costs to purchase “multi color concert lighter with lightning” on the App Store you can buy a really nice pack of salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps. Or a real lighter. Fair enough, you do get lightning with the app version, but that’s still wrong. 

Hold On

The iPhone has given us plenty of excellent games over the years: Tiny Wings, Threes and Monument Valley to name just a few. Simplicity and one or two rock solid mechanics are generally all a touch screen game needs to retain a place on your home screen. Hold On! is not one of these games. Your objective? Press a button for as long as you can and… that’s it. It costs £0.99. That’s one penny less than an entire pound. Think about that. 

Taxi Hold’em

Tired of relying on your hand alone to flag a taxi? There’s an app for that. Namely, Taxi Hold’em, which lets you catch the attention of a passing driver by holding up your phone to reveal an obnoxious “TAXI” sign which will almost certainly ensure every taxi in the world ignores you. It’s so bad it’s, well, bad. But, for some incomprehensible reason, it does exist.


Why bundle a load of clever tech into your smartphone if you’re not going to use it to gauge how awful you are in bed? Enter Passion, the app that reckons it can rate your shagging prowess. If by some miracle you’ve convinced someone to let you use this in the bedroom, all you need to do is pop it in an armband, start doing the sex and it will use your movement and noise to assess your overall performance. Just make sure you avoid any mirrors. Can’t have anything reminding you that your extremely unqualified sex coach is an iPhone app.

I Am Rich

The I Am Rich app was created so rich dickheads had yet another tangible means of showing other people how much of a rich dickhead they were. At $999.99 (£638), it represented the maximum any developer can charge on the App Store, and again, was only for dickheads with too much money. If you were one of the (apparently eight) dickheads that did lay down just short of one thousand dollars for the app before it was yanked down by Apple, what you received in return was a little red orb on the screen. Nothing more. Just your little red dickhead orb. You have to hand it to creator Armin Heinrich though. His faith in dickheads meant he pocketed $5,600 in 24 hours. 

Find Out Your Nickname

Nicknames are meant to form organically. Not everyone is lucky enough to have one bestowed upon them, but those who are usually have either a) a catchy surname, or b) a first name that’s too long to say. Maybe you ate a cupboard’s worth of peanuts when you were seven and it stuck. Nicknames shouldn’t – and do not – originate from a low-budget nickname generator app. And yet: we have Find Out Your Nickname. All you need to do is answer an arbitrary and long-winded series of strange questions (“would you ever enjoy an iceberg?”) and the app produces a brand new name for you that nobody will ever use. Below is mine. I will no longer respond to anything else.


You could argue that it’s a bit mean to include Apple’s own Stocks app in this list. It’s perfectly functional and comes loaded with the phone as standard. It doesn’t really deserve to be in the company of Passion the sex-judger and Hold On! Thing is, for years Apple made having the Stocks app compulsory, despite knowing that very few people habitually check on the financial markets when they wake up in the morning. You can ditch your podcasts, videos and vitally important to-do lists, but you’d better be keeping on top of the pound’s latest plummet. That shit is indispensable, said Apple, until the day they finally caved and announced that iPhone users could delete default apps, including Stocks. It will go down as one of the smartphone’s landmark moments. 

Images: Apple, Flickr