This app helps you avoid the crowd.

If you’re the type who tries to go where everyone isn’t, Avoid Humans may be the app for you.

It was designed as a way to “get away from it all” during this year’s SXSW, but it’s now available everywhere. It uses publicly available data from Foursquare and Instagram to try and predict which establishments have sparse human cover.

I launched it in my Philly apartment this evening and got the following results:

Avoid Humans app

I didn’t need an app to tell me I can go to a gas station to escape humanity for awhile. Also, pretty sure nobody uses Foursquare. Maybe they use Instagram though.

Via {Adweek}.

Text Is Dead; Long/ Live/ Text

Maybe one day we will talk to our computers and have them send messages to other humans on behalf of us. But for now we can text our friends ourselves or talk to computers via text.

For all the nonsense out there about people not reading any more and how our culture is increasingly led by visuals, there is still an awful lot of text-based innovations going on.

Sure you can use post an image in Twitter, but that platform was built on text and it’s still the most used medium. That’s a guess but it’s probably right.

This cool article, Futures of Text, was making the rounds on Twitter a couple weeks back. The author, Jonathan Libov, talks about text-based services like Bus Time as an antidote to the there’s-an-app-for-everything-I-have-too-many-apps thing.

It’s also where I heard about this cool text-based health app, Lark. He calls it “GUI-aided chat:”

Lark for iPhone is a virtual health coach that interfaces with HealthKit on the iPhone. They do an excellent job at weaving free-form chat with GUI.

Lark is also excellent at message design. The tone is natural and the tempo is fast but not so fast as to make you feel like your responses are perfunctory.

I find myself checking in with Lark a lot during the day. It makes me feel good about all the activity I get, even though I don’t think it would motivate me to get my butt outside if the weather’s crappy.

I’d attach a screen shot of Lark talking to me but the app has been crashing lately.

Here’s the video they have on their site:

Friday Link List

1. How to Draw a Picture While Running {tldr}

I don’t know why but I love this so much.

The conceit is simple. Claire [Wyckoff] uses her Nike+ to draw pictures on maps when she runs. She’s done drawings as mundane as a Corgi, and as complex as a Mennonite.

2. Raising Big Money to Fight Big Money {ny times}

Love Lawrence Lessig. I had read a few articles by him and was recently re-introduced thanks to his role in helping raise awareness about the plight of Aaron Schwartz. He has a new PAC he hopes will help elect candidates that support fundamental campaign finance reform.

“Inside-the-Beltway people don’t think this issue matters, they don’t think voters vote on the basis of this issue, and they advise their politicians not to talk about it,” said Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School with ties to Silicon Valley who is a founder of the Mayday PAC with Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush. “We think this issue does matter, and we want to prove it.”

3. The Catchiest Song Ever {the bird and the bee}

 

4. 1 Billion Stolen Passwords? Not So Fast {tldr}

Lots of good reasons to doubt the severity of the hacks, especially the last one:

Hold Security [the firm that announced the hack] is using this announcement to offer a “breach notification service,” which is a $10 monthly subscription with the company to tell you if you’ve been affected.

NPR One

New today from NPR: a great new way to experience public radio. It’s called NPR One. Upon opening the app for the first time, one confirms their local NPR affiliate and presses play. If you like what you hear, tap the “Interesting” button. If not, skip it. (You can also teach the app what you like by searching for topics and shows you enjoy.)

The more you use the app, the more it will learn about your interests. And the whole thing looks gorgeous and works great.

I’ve been using NPR One for about an hour so far, and it’s already provided me with an interesting mix of stories ranging from local news to a story from the NPR archives about why mammals need sleep.

It functions in a manner similar to Swell, the podcast app Apple has just reportedly purchased {tech crunch}.

It seems like a very forward-thinking move for NPR. It fulfills an emerging trend analogous to the gradual switch in listener habits moving from listening to music on iPods to streaming it on Spotify. Why bother managing episodes on a podcast app when you can use a service like NPR One instead?

It’s also a great way to get exposed to local news and break free from the filter bubble.

“Green” Apps: A Contradiction in Terms

Apparently green apps {epa.gov} are a thing. They may help you find recycling locations in Chicago, set up a carpool, locate the closest farmers’ market, or allow you to calculate your carbon footprint.

But one thing these apps don’t factor into their calculations is the emissions created by people simply using said apps.

Psychology Today helpfully draws our attention to this contradiction:

For all the good intentions behind the green app explosion, there’s a big contradiction in their deployment: namely, increases in green app usage—the basis of a green mobile lifestyle—inevitably increase electricity usage. And no app can address the two main forces that sustain this contradiction: the number of consumers linked to broadband mobile and landline networks continues to grow at astounding rates; and with that growth, comes increasing dependency on conventional energy production to power mobile communication.

I don’t know why Psychology Today is picking on green apps. The vast amount of energy used by our devices to access data in the cloud has been well documented {tech pundit}:

Using a [tablet or smartphone] to watch an hour of video weekly consumes annually more electricity in the remote networks than two new refrigerators use in a year.

That’s the lead story, not green apps. We’ve witnessed an app and smartphone explosion {nielsen}—period—over the past several years. To call out green apps in particular is unfair, distracting, and irrelevant.