From performing nose surgery to grooming a virtual horse, iPad apps are sometimes addictive, sometimes useless, and other times just downright weird.
I bought myself an iPad 3 a few months ago, apparently becoming one of almost a million South Africans to lay my hands on this coveted gadget.
The idea was to use it for work – to send emails, organise my schedule and Skype important people.
Within the first two weeks, however, all I had done was download dozens of apps and games. They included everything from Bakery Story, where you bake virtual pastries, to Zombie Tap, where you protect your house against an onslaught of iPad zombies.
In my never-ending perusal of the iStore I have come across the useful, the addictive, the mundane and the useless. There are some apps, however, that are just down-right bizarre.
Allow me to share with you my five strangest apps of 2012.
I don’t think My Horse is strictly for adults. Nevertheless, my wannabe-equestrian senses compelled me to download this free game.
In My Horse you get to raise a virtual horse. You groom it, you feed it, you make it jump over obstacles and ... well, that’s about it.
The bizarreness of My Horse is how little you actually do in the game, but how utterly addictive it becomes.
My boyfriend found My Horse on my iPad and was soon spending hours grooming and rearing a virtual pony. After a painstakingly slow and laborious process you are awarded with "gems" that you can use to change the colour or the mane of your horse or buy it different saddles and tack. If you have 300 gems you can even change your horse into a unicorn. Yes, a unicorn!
After three months of playing daily and accruing only 27 gems, I finally had to perform an intervention and remove My Horse from my iPad for fear that the grooming of this virtual animal would take over our lives.
Slender is a paid-for game that has been adapted for the iPad. It is also one of the scariest things I have ever played.
In Slender you wander around eerie forests and broken buildings, searching for clues to solve a mystery. The catch is that Slender – a thin, pale, faceless man-thing-monster – might be around every corner.
Slender has sparked a series of YouTube reaction videos, great watching if you like seeing people screaming their heads off while playing a computer game.
Hold On! costs all of US 99c. It is for those people who have ever wondered how long they can keep their finger pressed to an iPad. You simply press the button labelled "hold on!" and the timer shows you how much time you've held on. You see those milliseconds racing by? That’s your life, passing, as you hold your finger to one of the most useless iPad apps ever.
Virtual Zippo Lighter
Everyone needs a virtual lighter, don’t they? In this app you swipe your finger across the screen and watch a dancing flame erupt from your virtual lighter. You can also change the colour of the lighter, if you think you can handle the excitement.
Virtual lighter is great for when you’re at a rock concert and want to jut your iPad into the air when everyone else puts their lighters up and get hit by the person behind you whose view you would be blocking.
By far the strangest app I came across this year was Nose Surgery. An app that literally allows you to perform rhinoplasty on a virtual patient.
You are presented with a giant nose and have to do everything from pry open the nostrils to making incisions in the skin as a smooth-toned female doctor runs you through the procedure.
Even more bizarrely, the app is one of the most downloaded in the iStore, leading me to wonder if everyone secretly has always wanted a way to virtually perform nose jobs, or whether people are just downloading it out of sheer morbid curiosity.
According to Upstart, the app is “the 13th fastest growing iPhone app, 15th most popular iPad game, and 47th top free app” and was developed by a 78-year-old woman called Florin Mitchell from Wilson, North Carolina.
Judging from one of the comments on the Upstart article, however, the idea that a senior citizen created this lucrative game might be mere internet fantasy:
“Florin Mitchell mentioned in your [Upstart's] article stole the file from my site at www.surgerysquad.com and we are currently seeking legal action against that publisher. If you could please remove your article or possibly direct it to the actual owner, Clearly Trained, who currently has three legitimate surgery apps in the app store that would be great.”
Senior citizen creator or not, Nose Surgery takes the cake as the most bizarre (and grotesque) app I’ve ever downloaded (and deleted) on my iPad.