Millions of apps are either freeloaded or bought for smartphones in every corner of the globe. But we need more of these to make life simpler, besides upgrading the existing ones. Geeta Padmanabhan draws up a wish-list

On January 6, Apple cut the ribbon on its new online Mac-App Store operating from Cupertino, California. With upgrades available for Apple's Mac OS X Snow Leopard software, and to move to version 10.6.6 from 10.6.3, you can check out a free Twitter app, a paid-for “Angry Birds” game and Apple's own iWork software. The “i” devices maker says more than a million free and paid apps have already been downloaded from the site.

That's “i” news. Millions of other apps — some probably being tested right now — are freeloaded and bought for smartphones in every corner of the globe. A Weight Watchers app weighs what you eat; a Mint app helps you stick to a budget; Yoga RELAX tries to de-stress you; GetFitMap and Runkeeper track your exercise programme. News channels put out their own special apps. The Telegraph reports that a Penguin's ‘Baby Touch Peekaboo App', out in London is “designed” to enhance the hearing, visual and motor skills of three-month-olds. Baby taps on the screen and different characters appear, in bold colours and with sound effects, the auto-play tool allowing parents to play the entire content of the app as a movie.

But we need more — to make life easier and fun, to make current ones go further. For instance, is there an app that'll persuade us, gently or otherwise, into keeping our New Year resolutions? Here's a wish-list.

N.N. Subramanian, Director, Maveric Systems would like both smartphone and service providers to introduce and promote features that will reduce on-road use of phones, “by pedestrians as well as drivers in vehicles.” Sharadha Shankar, a “driving personality”, won't mind a live update on traffic at least on arterial roads. “How about an app to aid police broadcast sms info about stolen vehicles and drunken drivers?” she asked in a message sent from her BlackBerry.

Call regulation is what Shyam Shekar, Director, iThought, wants. “Managing intrusive calls using technology is an urgent need,” he said. “For example, I get calls between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on routine matters. I'd like to divert them for short durations of time to an assistant at the touch of a button. Calls must be answered without touching the phone or getting distracted by it. I would like to receive calls only from authorised numbers and smses.” Simply, an app that intelligently manages, not dumbly responds each time the phone rings. “A tech app to answer on our behalf with instructions to the caller will be a great feature.” Are you patenting this, Shyam?

Phone alarm

Rohit Dubey, associate creative director in an ad firm, unveils a patentable bunch for his iPhone. “Will be happy to pay for a phone alarm that won't stop till I'm wholly awake,” he said. Another one he'd give a star-rating to should allow friends to start a jam session from anywhere. “When I play the guitar on my iPhone, friends I call should be able to join on the piano or the drums. The app should remove the need to be physically present in a wi-fi-ed room for practice.”

A Tidel Park BPO group discussing apps wanted one that would alert them daily on Chennai's night life. “Include forecasts — of weather, traffic conditions and girlfriend's moods,” they laughed. The girls wanted their mobile snaps at the store to show if a dress suited them well.

Many apps may not be possible, marketable or even advisable, but that won't stop us from wanting them, right? How about one that pops out my picture when I sit down to eat? One that nutritionally analyses my order at the restaurant? I'll snap a picture and presto, comes the calorie count! And this one suggested by a teen? A control to pause life for 15 minutes every day, to take a deep breath and count our blessings before plunging into a search for the next killer app.

What's wanted

* A sharp alarm when you reach for a diet-ruining sweet.

* Stern voice (of mom?) telling you to get up and go for a walk.

* Anti-smoking app that shows your dog affected by smoke; another giving you a daily account of how much you save by not smoking.

* Sports app pointing out where you go short in technique, even as you play.

* A TV sad-face that appears when you've crossed a certain number of hours. Hey, shouldn't you be talking to family?

* A social networks blocker on students' cellphones, at least during study hours.

* A call-me app for all children who've flown the nest.

Keywords: smartphone apps