by Tom Kaneshige

iPhone and iPad Crapware: 5 Apps to Avoid

Apr 07, 2011
Consumer ElectronicsiPhoneSoftware Development

If you're new to the world of iPhone and iPad apps, don't be fooled by these stinkers in the App Store. Here are some apps that have been overpriced or outclassed.

With more than 350,000 apps on Apple’s App Store, you’re sure to find some real stinkers. How can you avoid these crappy apps, or CRAPPS?

Sure, we can list thousands of useless apps, from iFart to the infamous BabyShaker, but that would take up volumes. The CRAPPS we’re focused on were launched with much fanfare, duping even the most seasoned iPhone and iPad users into downloading and then deleting them.

iTunes accounts everywhere are riddled with these apps.


But not all CRAPPS are useless or even bad. Some app developers have targeted an underserved audience. Given the lack of competition and the laws of supply and demand, they jack up the price on their apps—and consumers buy them reluctantly. Other apps simply fell by the wayside as competitors raced past them.

Here are five CRAPPS that make us shake our heads:

Apple Notes

What it does: This Apple app, which comes with every iPhone and iPad, lets users take notes on a yellow pad of virtual paper. The best part about this app, just tap on the app icon and start typing away.

Why it’s a stinker: There are a lot of note-taking apps that are much better than Apple Notes. Evernote (free), for instance, lets users take various kinds of notes such as pictures, words and voice, and stores them in the cloud. SoundNote for the iPad ($5) lets you take notes and record sound at the same time. Later, just tap on a word, and you’ll jump to the proper place in the audio track.

Evernote made our list of 15 best iPhone apps for newbies, thanks to its ease of note-taking. SoundNote is one of five awesome productivity tools for under $5.

Worst of all, you can’t delete Apple Notes from your home screens.

Camera Apps

What it does: The photography category on the App Store is awash with iPhone apps. Some became trendy for a time, such as Hipstamatic for the iPhone ($2), which turns digital images into old-fashioned snapshots, and Color Splash for the iPhone ($1), which splashes color onto a black-and-white image.

Why it’s a stinker: For the most part, though, photography apps have undergone a hair-pulling evolution marred by apps that duplicate features. Black-and-white apps, zoom apps, flash-imitation apps, photo-editing apps, all started out as independent apps but were later made irrelevant by apps such as Camera+ and CameraBag that combine features.

End result: a lot of downloading, deleting and comparison shopping.


What it does: One of the first cool reader apps for the iPhone, Eucalyptus ($10) serves up 20,000 free books. Pages are rendered beautifully, and you could turn pages easily. Eucalyptus was chosen by Wired and Macworld as one of the best apps last year.

Why it’s a stinker: The e-reader genre quickly became a commodity reading experience on the iPhone and, later, the iPad. The bookstore behind the e-reader app became the most important feature.

Kindle (free) emerged as the dominant app on the iPhone and iPad, followed by Apple’s iBookstore (mostly due to an old tech vendor trick, called bundling). Thus, Eucalyptus and other e-reader apps had little to offer.


What it does: Mirror, mirror on the iPhone…

Let’s face it, everyone wants to look at themselves in the mirror. That’s why lots of people bought the Mirror for iPhone ($1) app, which basically takes your picture and puts a frame around it.

Why it’s a stinker: It doesn’t work like a mirror that reflects a dynamic image.

The better option is PhotoBooth on the iPad, which uses the front-facing video camera and delivers a mirror-like experience (although you’ll have to look at the camera, not into the screen). The best mirror just might be the iPhone or iPad—when the device is turned off. The dark screen is fairly reflective.

Like other Apple apps, PhotoBooth comes bundled on the iPad 2. But third-party developers have delivered apps that really take advantage of the 10-inch screen and touch features. Check out these 15 best iPad apps for newbies.

AP Stylebook

What it does: The Associated Press Stylebook for iPhone ($25) is the industry standard manual for spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage and journalistic style. The app lets you search across chapters, add notes, and bookmark listings.

Why it’s a stinker: Did we mention it was $25? That’s an outrageous price for what’s little more than a reference document. There isn’t even an iPad version.

Moreover, journalists face tough times in an industry with historic job losses and salary cuts. Yet they are the ones that need this app the most. Thanks, Associated Press.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at