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App Man

Your Guide to the Best New IPhone Apps for Execs.

One of the most exciting new applications for the iPhone is a program called Type n Walk, which allows the user to text while strolling without fear of getting run over by a bus or hit on the head by a mugger or attacked by a pack of famished wolves.

That’s because Type n Walk provides a crystal-clear image on the iPhone screen depicting everything in front of the pedestrian on the sidewalk that stretches before his feet. Whether it’s a crack in the pavement or a puddle or a snoozing derelict or a rampaging bicyclist or a gurney that suddenly appears out of nowhere, the texting pedestrian need never again fear what lies ahead.

To some, Type n Walk may seem like a brilliant solution to a problem that does not actually exist, like a shop that specializes in Christmas gifts for baseball umpires, tow truck operators and IRS agents. But according to the New York Times, texting while walking is such a serious problem in Finland home of Nokia, and a place where numerous ambulating texters have been killed by cars or oncoming trains that the authorities have begun to install traffic lights in the street itself where otherwise distracted texters cannot avoid seeing them. Presumably, this was considerably cheaper than installing a brain in every Finnish texting addict’s head.

I am always excited when I read about applications like this. For one, it is a testament to the ingenuity of programmers everywhere. Two, it underscores the symbiotic, some might say parasitic, relationship between app makers and cell phone manufacturers. Three, and perhaps most important of all, these kinds of ingenious apps supply a remedy to a problem before the problem gets so serious that the government has to step in. Just imagine if bureaucrats were put in charge of fixing the promenading texter crisis. Or Amtrak. If Amtrak were devising exciting new apps for iPhones, the screen would provide a blurry image of places the phone user was moving toward, but the images would arrive three hours late, long after the cell phone user had disappeared beneath the wheels of a tractor trailer. And the app would cost too much.

That said, I’m not sure that apps like Type n Walk go far enough. Typing while walking has never been a big problem for me. Making money while typing and walking is. That’s why I would love to see the clever folks who came up with Type n Walk design a few new apps like this:

  • Type n Walk n Short. While you’re walking down the street, the iPhone screen displays a list of juicy stocks trading at preposterous multiples that are just waiting to be shorted. Some of them make cell phones. 
  • Type n Walk n Buy the Dogs of the Dow. Every 10 seconds, your iPhone splits in two. On the top half is an image of the sidewalk in front of you, with a red light highlighting small, annoying dogs you might trip over and perhaps even garrote as you pass by. On the bottom half is an updated list of the 10 worst-performing stocks in the Dow, which, if you buy the whole bundle, usually provide a handsome return. Dogs, meet the dogs!
  • Type n Walk n Try to Understand the Healthcare Bill. This app is recommended for people who plan to go on a long, long, long walk. It’s an ideal app for the unemployed.
  • Type n Walk n Try to Figure Out a Way to Pay for Your Kids’ College Education. This app is also recommended for people out on a long, long walk. Actually, a long, long, long walk. For best results, try walking and texting while hiking across the Sahara.
  • Type n Walk and Design Exciting New Apps for the iPhone. At present, there are 178,398,876 apps for the iPhone. No one can understand why there are so few. So, programmers of the world get cracking! Don’t waste valuable time walking from your car to the office or from your desk to the water fountain, or from your laptop to your net book. Design new apps for the iPhone while you’re walking and texting and eating and e-mailing and breathing! Ideally, a special waterproof version of this program would allow people to text and design new apps while in the shower, or even while drowning. It’s never too late to design a new app. Never

About Joe Queenan

Joe Queenan is a regular contributor on business issues, corporate culture, and financial follies to Barron's and The Wall Street Journal.