There's an app for that ... and everything else

The Pitt News, Staff Editorial, November 29, 2009


Long gone are the days when smartphone applications consisted of conventional, simple additions to the everyday cellphone user, such as weather reports or maps. Today, the apps keep getting more complex and downright quirky — and it looks like they'll keep getting zanier as we continue to merge our social lives with technological developments.

PeopleFinders, an online information broker, has some new apps that could pry a little deeper into the dating realm. Here's a hypothetical scenario: It's a Friday night, you're at the bar and your decision-making abilities are slippery at best. Not sure if you really want to head back with that guy who's had his arm around you the last couple of hours? No worries. Whip out your iphone and use the “Look up before you hook up” app for a quick criminal background check of your potential new friend. But maybe Mr. Right For The Night shouldn't really be out at this hour. Use the “Are They Really Single?” app, which scans marriage and divorce records to make sure he didn't subtly slip his ring in his pocket before offering to buy you that drink.

But wait, there's more. "The Stud or Dud?" app digs up as much information as possible on whatever name you type in. The results could be past addresses, business and professional licenses to bankruptcies, eviction histories and real estate ownership, according to CNN.

The app draws its info from public records available to anyone. It's supposedly such a deft tool, however, because PeopleFinders has been collecting data for more than 20 years from sources all across the United States and stockpiling it in one database. Sorry high schoolers, the app only accesses data from those 18 and older.

Short of hiring a private investigator, these apps take snooping to a new high — forget the limitations of Facebook stalking. Then again, this app could provide a sobering wake-up telling you whom not to wake up next to. Or it could just prevent gold diggers from accidentally aiming too low. Either way, it's sure to prevent some unwanted frolicking and awkward moments and explanations.

Assuming the skilled Google searcher or person willing to track down a few files could find all this information the old-fashioned way, privacy concerns are less of an issue. Some users have expressed concerns, however, that the information isn't surefire accurate. In some instances, this means a dating blunder, but what about the employer using these apps to prescreen potential employees? We're toying with our trust in technology.

And just how far are we taking these apps? As shown, they're even a cause of some controversy. Then again, there's a range of simplistic, just-for-fun apps — a sign of our proclivity to find new methods of amusement. From iFart to iBeer, we've shown we can get creative while humoring our less-than-intellectual sides — but we've already proven that. Turn on MTV if you don't believe us.

All these more inventive and in-depth apps like these released by PeopleFinders reflect our age-old outlook on technology: If we can, we will. From Facebook to texting, our social lives intertwine ever more with technology. And things aren't slowing down.

So what's next? There's no app for that. Not yet.


This article was taken from http://www.pittnews.com/article/2009/11/29/editorial-theres-app-and-everything-else


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