What’s the one app you can’t live without?
You wipe the sand off your eyelids and slowly open your tired eyes. Your lips are parched and cracked. How long have I been out? You look around and see only the blue of the rolling ocean and the yellow, dirty sand. What’s the last thing I remember? A boat. A crash. And nothing.
You look down and in your hand is a phone. A waterproof phone. You press the power button and, miraculously, it turns on! What’s my password again? You rifle through your confused state for a memory. The password — you have it. You unlock it and there’s only one app on your home screen — but it’s your favorite app! You can’t wait to use it every moment of every day as your body wastes away on this forgotten hellscape somewhere in the Pacific.
So — what is that app?
Is it sad that the first app that popped into my head was Newton, my favorite email client? I need to get out more.
Seriously, though, I thought about what my priorities are on this damn thing I call a pocket supercomputer, and if there was only one app I could open (and use, with magical island cellular service) for the rest of my days it would probably be Audible. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but I love listening to audiobooks, and with the vast wealth of human knowledge and burgeoning ideas at my fingertips until the day I die, I could probably stand to walk around aimlessly while chomping on coconuts as I pored through every Master and Commander novel or, the masochist I am, Infinite Jest.
Do I have a data connection? If this is some kind of magical island in the middle of nowhere but with LTE (hey, it’s a hypothetical question, so why not?), my app of choice is Chrome. There are lots of one-task specialized apps I could pick, but if I only get one, it’s going to be an app that can get so much done — that’s Chrome for me.
Sure I’d prefer to do most things in a separate purpose-built app, and the mobile web still isn’t great. But if I have a phone and only Chrome, I can get a whole lot more accomplished — and in a variety of different areas — than with any other single app.
To start with I have a few questions that need to be answered. Do I have signal? What does my power look like? Do I have unlimited data? Yes. These are the first questions that pop into my head because I am totally that guy.
If I could access any app, and have the ability to use it forever somehow, but was unable to call for help I’d probably go with Google Drive or Spotify. Writing fiction is my hobby, but music keeps me alive. If I can have social media though, I’m going with Facebook because then I could get someone to come rescue me. Hello, location services!
Snapchat, duh. I’m gonna monetize the heck out of this desert island situation. I’m going to do for lonely island memes what Tom Hanks did to volleyballs. Of course, from there, I’m hoping that my husband will send someone to come get me, since I know the first place he’ll look for me to see whether I’m still alive is my social media channels.
And, hey, you can’t tell me there isn’t LTE on this island! If everyone else can take this fantasy to where they want it to go, mine is going to take place in the far future, where Facebook and Google have brought the internet to even the most isolated parts of the world. This is the future we’re headed for, sheeple. Might as well embrace our new corporate robot overloads and pray that they come rescue us when we stray from the pack.
On a desert island, you’re going to have limited recharging potential, no internet, and a metric crap-ton of time to kill. Even if none of these things were true, the only app I need on my phone to keep me sane and happy is Google Play Music. Let’s face it, if I’m gonna last more than five minutes on an island before I start talking to myself and going completely insane, I’m gonna need some music. Does this app have a lot of bugs and UI glitches that need fixing? You bet your apps, it does! But it’s the music service I bought into over five years ago and for better or worse, it’s the one I’ll be using for the foreseeable future.
If I’m on a desert island with no signal, I won’t have access to my cloud library, but that’s okay. I’m always prepared for long, offline listening sessions, in fact, my favorite way to use Google Play Music is in Downloaded Only mode. By carefully curating what I keep downloaded on Google Play Music, I can shuffle through parts of my library that I want to listen to often, rather than sorting through the thousand and thousands of songs in my entire library.
That said, good Google Play Music does need some overhauling.
Let’s face it — in a desert island situation, you’re going to have a lot of time to kill. And so I’d turn to my go-to time-killing app, Pocket Casts. Assuming I had time to preload a decent selection of shows before the start of my tropical predicament (or I was somehow able to fashion working Wi-Fi out of rope and coconut shells) I’d be able to keep myself entertained until rescue arrived.
I listen to a lot of podcasts when I travel, and I usually load up a few hours — at least — of ‘casts in Pocket Casts before any long-haul flights. The app also plays nicely with external storage and has lots of handy options for helping clear out shows to save storage. (Because where are you gonna buy more SD cards on a desert island?)
I’m not setting foot on a boat again. I never really liked traveling by water, and three days in Venice reinforced that belief. But if I somehow ended up stranded on a deserted island and I had my phone with me, I would immediately start typing away on Simplenote. The app doesn’t need to be connected to the internet, and it has a minimalist interface that’s great for writing.
Also, a desert island is the perfect setting for a novel. For one thing, there wouldn’t be any distractions. Get ready for a Robinson Crusoe-style epic, albeit one chronicling the misadventures of a terribly uncoordinated man. In the meantime, I’m picking up a solar-powered battery bank. It may take forever to charge, but time tends to lose all meaning on an island in the middle of nowhere.
Ok, so this question is hard, because there’s a number of scenarios and factors that still need to be addressed. If I somehow miraculously had an internet signal on this desert island, I’d definitely want my favorite social media app Instagram so I could update my Instagram story with S.O.S. messages. Sadly, no one would bother to watch them and I’d be stuck on the island for several more years — but at least I’d also have a never-ending stream of pretty pictures to look.
If in a much more realistic scenario there’s no internet… but the phone will never run out of I’ve fashioned myself a solar-powered phone charger out of some coconuts (OK, not entirely realistic), I would definitely want to see a favorite time-killing game that I could play offline for hours on end… Rollercoaster Tycoon: Classic!
What are your desert island apps? Would you stay by reading, writing, listening to music, or playing games?