I'm not much of a gadget guy. And I like to make fun of stuff. But two summers ago when I got an esteemed "invitation" to join Google+, I jumped all over it.
Initially, all of my more tech-savvy and tech-connected friends had gotten their invites at G+'s launch and were trotting the social media globe while I was still waiting for my chance. Like them, I wanted to jump right in and see what G+ was all about, since it was billed as the other Facebook, but better. I wasn't totally convinced, but smart people I respect like my blogger friend Kim Dale chirped about how great G+ was, compared to FB.
After spending a few months trying to find G-Plus's allegedly user-friendly side, I got annoyed I closed my account. To me Google+ felt a little constrictive, unworkable, and pretty anti-social as social media goes. Out of frustration --and hearing all the hype from the G+ cheerleading blogger crowd-- I wrote a post likening G+ as a product to the legendary Ford Pinto. Even Chicago Red Eye joked in its print version about Google's many dud apps.
The internew behemoth has been releasing beta products like Google Glass Video or what's just being referred to in media as Google Glass. Since then Google has also thrown out there Google+ Hangouts, you could easily get cynical about what Google and other social media purveyors are trying to pull over us. Rather than huff and puff about tech's trendy fetishes, it might make just a little more sense to take a look at other potential apps that Google could put out there (some day) that might actually be helpful in real life. Consider it a wish list.
One of the problems with socializing on the weekend for adults is that one casual drink can easily become many casual drinks. And the truth is that whether or not you're just a little tipsy or sloshed altogether, if you are like most people nowadays you're playing with your phone regardless.
At nearly $500 a piece, the average smart phone should do more for its owner than just update you on Facebook news. With Google Breathalyzer, you'd need only to pop open the app and hold your phone up to your mouth long enough to breathe into it so as to register your blood alcohol level.
Imagine the lives saved, the fines you'll never need to pay. No jail time, no embarrassing time off work for court appearances. More importantly for free you can download and show off this trendy new app on your slick tail-saving phone.
The only catch, of course, is that when using Google Breathalyzer you must be sober enough to locate the icon on your phone's touch screen.
Google Free Throw
Shaquille O'Neal did a lot of great things, and it's too bad the future hall of fame NBA star retired. Shaq, who scored 30 to 40 points a game on any given day was also known as a terrible free throw shooter; so much so that opposing teams like the Chicago Bulls even devised a strategy to get him to the free throw line as much as possible. During one game Shaq in 2000 versus Seattle, Shaq actually went 0 for 11 at the line (still a record), cementing his reputation as one of the worst free throw shooters of all time among top players.
Much of Shaq's career was played during the dawn of cell phone technology and Google's infancy. But if we could go back in time with a smart phone and Google Free Throw, the NBA's choicest instructional app, it is possible that O'Neal would have sunk the ball much more.
"Hey man... Did you forget your phone?"
Having his cell phone handy with Google Free Throw fired up, this app could instruct Shaq mid-game how to extend the arm and arc, letting the perfect free throw shot leave the hands and hit the right spot off the backboard or within the rim. And if that doesn't work, rest assured that any cell phone or small electronic device would still shoot more accurately from the line than big man.
For those of you single guys who are a little awkward when talking to women, it's fair to say that you should either sharpen your conversational saw or read up on the subject. There are self help books for that, but most young men on the prowl tend to rely on a male buddy to be present to push conversation along, spot prey, and bump the momentum up with well-placed compliments and supportive flattery in front of a woman.
The problem of being without your wingman when you need him can easily be resolved by the fact that you have your phone with you at all times. Just fire up Google's new app called Google Wingman. When used in the proper situation, Wingman will chirp positive, audible comments about you from your phone whenever you need.
With all of its "circles" nonsense, Google+ reminded me of this.
Google Shaver (or SHVR, if you please)
I always thought that Motorola missed an opportunity when marketing its 4LTR line of phones such as the SLVR (presumably pronounced "sliver") and the RAZR (presumably pronounced "razor") by not taking the utility of their smart phones further.
Certainly before beginning a night out on the prowl, no self-respecting Google Wingman user can hit the town without looking his best. Even if it takes place in the cab ride to your favorite bar or night club.
Built in conjunction with Motorola and other top technology companies, Google SHVR allows you to get that good, close shave you'll need to look the part when reeling in the ladies with your personal finesse, app savvy, and hot new gadget in-hand. After all, you don't want to look purposely unkempt and shaggy like some sort of iPhone using hipster.
All in all, there's a lot coming your way from Google and tech companies, and all of these upcoming apps and gadgets are sure to improve your quality of life.
Andy Frye writes for ESPN.com, and occasionally makes fun of technology here. Follow the snark on Twitter via @MySportsComplex.