Got a spare £700 burning a hole in your pocket? Why not ‘invest’ in another little icon to sit on your smartphone homescreen. ShortList’s Tom Bailey investigates the ridiculous world of super-high-end apps
Wall Street wolf who loves pie charts? This is for you. It’s a trading app allowing you to track stocks and shares. But the app also has a Nobel Prize-winning maths model called Modern Portfolio Theory. MPT lowers your risk by making a cluster of investments that have a lower risk than a single one. In theory, anyway.
Deduce Grandmaster Edition
The economic model for games apps goes like this: make an addictive game available for free. Wait for gamers to get hooked. Tickle them into spending £40 on coins/charms/crystals that advance their progress and unlock new abilities. Fiendish puzzler Deduce Grandmaster Edition works on the opposite principle. Costing £100 upfront, it’s a two-player variation of the legendary Eight Queens chess problem. Considered ‘as fast as Tic-Tac-Toe, but as complicated as chess’, each game is over in eight moves. An entire match – six games – can be over in a minute. This Grandmaster Edition essentially allows you to play it against
a computerised genius – and compare your performances against the other Grandmaster Edition owners. All five of them.
Safe Session Voice Encryption
If you watched The Wire, you'll know that ‘burners’ (cheap, unregistered mobile phones) are the underworld’s preferred method of arranging clandestine meetings. But you’ll also know that burners can be tapped. If you don’t want anyone listening in on your calls, you’ll need to encrypt them. Safe Session allows you to make secure calls over Wi-Fi. The AES 258-bit encryption – used by the US government – would take the average person a billion years to crack. Before you start planning a ‘Canoe Man’, remember that the person on the other end of the line needs the app too.
Barcelona Vs Madrid
Behold, the most expensive video game ever. A Fifa-style football sim, based, fittingly, on El Clasico. The details are scant, the screenshots strangely blurry and the description worryingly terse: “The best teams in the world. The classic rivalry. The most realistic graphics and simulation. Very easy to play.” To be fair, with only two teams to choose from, it should be easy to play. The reviews on the app store are less than complimentary. Most likely the work of an over-ambitious developer, it’s difficult to see why this app costs £250. You could actually buy a ticket to the game for that…
In the Seventies and Eighties, Steinway’s in-house piano tuner was so skilled that he could identify every individual Steinway ever built simply by listening to a recording. This piano-tuning app turns your iPhone into a similarly impressive bionic ear. The key is that it provides a visual representation of each note – thus allowing it to be corrected. Just like tuning a guitar. If a guitar had 230 strings.
Billed as the millionaire’s app, iVIP not only costs an eye-watering £700 but requires those who dare download it to prove they have assets and/or income in excess of £1m. Then you’ll have the opportunity to spend £1,200 a day on a chauffeured limo stocked with chilled sushi or make last-minute reservations at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Naturally, it’s all a wheeze to separate terminally-minted oligarchs from their cash. But, we won’t lie, we’d like to test it out.
Strictly for professional mixing desk jockeys, XA1 is a virtual spectrum analyser – a chunky bit of kit used by recording studios for smoothing out a song’s final mix. In a nutshell, this clever piece of Danish software provides a graph displaying the distribution of each sound across a frequency spectrum. Once all the instruments are recorded, the overall mix can be improved by checking that their frequencies aren’t clashing. If they are, the bass notes will sound muddy and the high notes crispy. And nobody wants a crispy note. NB: if you’re in a punk band, none of this is relevant. Keep on with the crispy notes.
If you’re a restaurateur or bar owner, this app promises to improve your bottom line. How? By enabling you to sack front-of-house staff. Brutal but efficient. How does it work? Install Tap Menu on a few iPads (it’s a one-off cost), design a touch-sensitive food and drink menu, then hand customers the iPads as they walk in. Hungry patrons can then browse the menu, swiping through food photos, before ordering with a few taps. No garçon-hailing required. The ticket is printed in the kitchen, the chef prepares the food, and the waiter… ah, damn. Right, you will need some table staff. Unless you build a Yo! Sushi-style conveyor belt.
As you may have gleaned from The King’s Speech, curing a stutter can be a cruel business. This app helps
by measuring phonation intervals (the time your vocal chords take to voice a letter). Short intervals
are flagged up as they indicate excessively rapid speech – the trigger for a stutter. The app plays back your own speech – delayed by a fraction of a second – to induce a more fluent speech pattern. More scientific than the advice George VI first received: smoke more cigarettes.