Simplify, simplify, simplify!"
That's a quote from the renowned 19th-century American author Henry David Thoreau that I learnt in high school English - a class I almost failed. Why?
Still, every would-be app developer should first read the complete works of Thoreau because his philosophy is sorely lacking throughout the digital age.
Take video calls, for example. Even if we stumble across a smartphone app that seems to make sense to us, getting anyone else we care about to cast the same high-tech spell on their magic wireless device so they can join our real-time video party can be like talking someone through brain surgery using Morse code.
Plus, when it comes to telephony, more immersion isn't always better. During marathon phone conversations with my sister, I often balance my chequebook on the sly as she speaks and it's never bothered her in the least - I suspect it would be different if she could see me counting on my fingers as she spoke.
For those who want the best of both telecommunication worlds, there's Vimessa (free; iPhone, iPod, Android coming soon), a video-voicemail app that allows you to send messages for free to anyone anywhere in the world - even those who don't have a smartphone at all.
Once you download and register the app, it allows you to record and send high-definition video content just as you would a simple text message.
Choose a recipient from your contact list and Vimessa will turn on the camera so you can record your video. Once you're done, you can then play back your message for review, send it out, or delete it and try again.
Your message, which is transmitted over your phone's data network to avoid any SMS charges, will soon arrive at your recipient's smartphone number or e-mail address.
If they have Vimessa installed on their phone, they will get a push notification of your incoming message, and can view it almost instantly through the app, even as you're recording it. If not, they will get a text message or e-mail with a link to view your video online.
Vimessa is still a bit complicated and a bit buggy. It requires you to register your phone number and e-mall address, and then asks you to respond to a confirmation text that is sent to your phone.
Even still, I think Thoreau would approve.
Nah, who am I kidding? He'd hate all this. How would I know, anyway?
I barely got out of that class.
Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at email@example.com