The Dumb Store: Internet Apps for Your Dumbphone!

May 23, 2013 | Marina Galperina

Do you have a dumbphone, but still want to access internet things? Welcome to The Dumb Store. A project by Allison Burtch and Ramsey Nasser, just premiered week at the ITP graduate program showcase in Tisch.

“We think that information should be available to everyone, irrespective of the hardware or software they have,” Burtch tells ANIMAL. The Dumb Store is truly a platform for everyone: It’s compatible with literally every single mobile phone.

To use an app, just call +1 646-666-3536 and key in the app number followed by the pound key or text +1 646-666-3536 with the app’s ID keyword. It’s also open source, so anyone can contribute or adapt an app or make an improvement to Burtch and Nasser’s code. The apps live at the Dumb Store github repository and can be implemented in Ruby. Liberate your dumbphone!

Wikipedia: Get the first three sentences of a Wikipedia article via SMS. Text ‘wiki’ and the title of the article you’re looking for.

Is The L Train Fucked?  (Based on istheltrainfucked.com by Jonathan Vingiano) Text “ltrain” or call and key in “ltrain” (587246#).

Drones: Reads out statistics on the latest American drone strike. Based on the DroneStream API by Josh Begley. Call and key in “drone” (37663#).

Weather: Forecasts the weather at the given location. Text “weather 11205” or “weather Brooklyn, NY” to get the weather in Brooklyn.

Directions: Google maps directions. Text “dir”. In the body of your text, put your origin to destination. It needs city, st for both. Ex: “dir 721 Broadway to Eyebeam New York, NY”.

Rick Roulette: Call and key in “rick” (7425#). Hold your phone up to your head for a 1 in 6 chance of getting rickrolled.

“I can see this being useful for people who don’t have smart phones, don’t want smart phones, can’t afford them, or don’t have access to wifi,” Burtch tells us. “It’s also a little bit of a ‘fuck you’ to Apple and Google. We reject the notion of planned obsolescence. You shouldn’t need an iPhone to get MTA info. Google recently shut down their SMS search, going down their path of destroying all of the useful things they’ve created. So we rebuilt it.”

We talked to Burtch again a few minutes ago. Since the ITP showcase, Burtch and Nasser have had 7 app submissions and calls and tweets from everywhere. “Basically, no one from the States has emailed us, but from everywhere else around the world,” she says. Then, a few minutes later, “Someone made an SF Muni app. I’m stoked!”

Burtch and Nasser both participated at #GodMode Art Hack Day at 319 Scholes this year, with Nasser’s team working on the scripture-emulating programming language God.js and Burtch’s team creating a guide on How to be Anonymous in the Age of DNA — both featured in ANIMAL’s video of the event. This week’s two-day ITP showcase itself featured dozens and dozens of exciting tech projects, body hacks, and interactive installations. Impressive, fresh stuff — and relevant.

“As we’re an inclusive app platform, we’d love for the submissions to reflect that,” Burtch says. “I’d love to have more ladies contribute!” So, get at it the Dumb Store, programmers!