One of the most exciting new applications for the iPhone is a program called Type n Walk, which allows the user to text while strolling without fear of getting run over by a bus or hit on the head by a mugger or attacked by a pack of famished wolves.
That's because Type n Walk provides a crystal-clear image on the iPhone screen depicting everything in front of the pedestrian on the sidewalk that stretches before his feet. Whether it's a crack in the pavement or a puddle or a snoozing derelict or a rampaging bicyclist or a gurney that suddenly appears out of nowhere, the texting pedestrian need never again fear what lies ahead.
To some, Type n Walk may seem like a brilliant solution to a problem that does not actually exist, like a shop that specializes in Christmas gifts for baseball umpires, tow-truck operators and IRS agents. But according to the New York Times, texting while walking is such a serious problem in Finland--home of Nokia, and a place where numerous ambulating texters have been killed by cars or oncoming trains--that the authorities have begun to install traffic lights in the street itself where otherwise distracted texters cannot avoid seeing them. Presumably, this was considerably cheaper than installing a brain in every Finnish texting addict's head.
I am always excited when I read about applications like this. For one, it is a testament to the ingenuity of programmers everywhere. Two, it underscores the symbiotic, some might say parasitic, relationship between app makers and cell phone manufacturers. Three, and perhaps most important of all, these kinds of ingenious apps supply a remedy to a problem before the problem gets so serious that the government has to step in. Just imagine if bureaucrats were put in charge of fixing the promenading texter crisis. Or Amtrak. If Amtrak were devising exciting new apps for iPhones, the screen would provide a blurry image of places the phone user was moving toward, but the images would arrive three hours late, long alter the cell phone user had disappeared beneath the wheels of a tractor trailer. And the app would cost too much.
That said, I'm not sure that apps like Type n Walk go far enough. Typing while walking has never been a big...