Questions, Answers and (far too many) Magic8Balls

On July 30, 2008

When the App Store first opened ZDNet’s Matt Miller asked, "Why do we need 10 tip calculators"

It is an excellent question, especially since I’m not sure why I need ONE tip calculator let alone ten.

Looking around the App Store last night, though, I came up with what I think is an EVEN BETTER question. The question…

"Why do we need 1, let alone 5 (and growing), Magic8Ball apps??"

"Who better to answer such a question than the apps themselves?" I asked myself. After all, they ARE supposed to offer insight and answers.

For the sake of this website, therefore, I downloaded all of them and asked the same series of questions of each.

One of them was kind enough to share the history of this piece of American culture. Turns out the Magic8Ball was incented in 1946 by Abe Bookman of the Alebe Toy Company. The original black plastic sphere came with 20 different answers which is interesting since all of the iPhone versions seem to have far less than that.

Here are my questions… and the various answers I received…

Question: Are there too many Magic8Ball programs?

a. My reply is no
b. Very doubtful
c. Yes
d. Outlook good
e. Very doubtful

Question: Are you the best of the bunch?

a. My sources say no (oooh, honesty!)
b. It is decidely so (ego)
c. You bet (more ego)
d. Yes! (even more ego)
e. Yes, definately (and yet again…)

Question: Is this completely stupid?

a. Reply hazy, try again… (after trying again) Better not tell you now (can you spell "elusive"?)
b. You may rely on it
c. For sure
d. My sources say no
e. My reply is no

Finally, when I asked, "Should I keep this version of Magic8Ball on my iPhone?" I was told…

a. It is decidely so
b. My sources say no
c. No
d. Yes
e. Without a doubt

So what did I find out?

I discovered that some magic8balls are self-aware while other are self-deluding.

i discovered that—

The most fun was DoApp’s version since it allows answers to be customized, has a nice shaking sound and offer the option to either shake the iPhone or swipe your finger over the sphere. It does, however, cost $.99.

David Syzdek’s version is fine.

The happyappinc version is simple but free.

The MagiciBall Deluxe is the most "realistic" (read: like the original one) of the bunch and is currently free.

The Shekhar Yadav version is simple and requires a touch rather than a shake. It costs $.99.

In the end, you’ll have to decide which of the Magic8Ball programs is best.

If you see it as a silly, fun way to pass the time I recommend you get one of the free versions rather than spend even $.99.

I discovered that it was actually more fun to fool around with them than I expected but you’ll have to excuse me now… I need to remove all of them to make space for the 10 tip Calculators I am planning to download tonight.