Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

An iPad Dog-Whisperer (And Other Crazy Pet Apps)

If you’ve ever said the mobile phone is man’s new best friend … who are you? No, really. You’ve replaced a drooling fluffernut that barks (or mews) with excitement every time you walk through the door with apps? Would your smartphone ever wear a shark suit and ride on a Roomba to the delight of the Internet?

PavlovApp Jpeg

Well, if you’re so inclined, now you can combine your two favorite things. There are a number of mobile apps that cater to pet owners, many for monitoring purposes, but some just for sheer fun. Here are a few to consider:

Reward your dog when he’s stuck in the house alone. Ever use the iPad to appease your child? A new app called Pavlov Dog Monitor aims to do the same thing with Fido. This $4.99 iPad app uses audio-sensor technology to listen for your dog’s barks when you’re away from home. It then triggers prerecorded videos — with you saying, “Bad boy!” or alternately, “Good boy!” — to help quiet the dog. For an extra $1.99, you can have the barking updates sent to a Facebook message folder, helping you monitor your dog’s agitation throughout the day. The entrepreneur behind the app is also working on a Bluetooth-equipped treat-dispenser that will give your dog an actual treat if he hasn’t been barking for awhile.

Don’t have a dog? You can test it out yourself by barking at the app. I tried this for about 2.5 seconds and then came to my senses.

Finally, get a good picture of your “active” pet. You know how when small children are having their portrait taken, the photographer coos and shakes a rattle to get them to smile? That’s what this app, called PetSnap, does for Whiskers. It costs $1.99, and is available for iOS devices only. There are more than 25 sound effects to choose from to grab your pet’s attention. Then, just when their ears perk up and they’re all, like, “Squirrel!” you can snap a photo, which is saved to your phone’s camera roll. There are even sound effects for your pet Space Llama or your exotic Zoo Frog.

CrossTunerPets Jpeg

Want to know what your dog is really thinking about you? That’s where Cross Tuner for iOS comes in. Using this app, you point your iPhone camera at your dog or cat (or zombie, or teddy bear, which for some reason are also options), and then talk to your pet. The app responds with a thought bubble for your pet, complete with an audio recitation. “If you’re not going to talk, at least change my litter,” was one of the thought bubbles I got when I briefly tested it. You can also record footage of your pet doing that adorable thing, and share it to Facebook or YouTube. But this free app is better in theory than in delivery. For example, you can’t import already-shot videos of your pet and attach fun audio captions to them.

Bonus app: This app makes Grumpy Cat look content. It’s the Angry Cat Simulator, available for iOS and Android. The free version has a limited number of angry cat characters; the “plus” version, which costs 99 cents, includes more than 60 angry animals — they aren’t limited to just cats. The ads on the free version are super irritating, though, so if you feel like spending a dollar on a mindless app today, I recommend the upgrade. Bear in mind that this app won’t turn pictures of your actual pet into angry cats (which I was hoping for when I first downloaded it); it merely simulates an angry cat, one that becomes more irate as you “pet” it on the screen, or shake your device.

Yes, this app encourages you to scratch a virtual cat’s chest. I rest my case.


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— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work