In less than 24 hours, a new app tactfully titled Ghetto Tracker--a service seeking to help people identify safe areas in unfamiliar cities--has already garnered enough backlash to prompt an immediate name change to Good Part of Town.
However, the PR move may not do much to alter the public's reception of the app, which critics are slamming as a racist, classist app for helping the rich to avoid the poor.
The app functions by allowing locals to rate the safety of different parts of a given area. According to The Week, the original launch of the page featured a white family of four smiling alongside the app's promise to show users "which parts of town are safe and which ones are ghetto, or unsafe."
In addition to the name change, all mention of the word "ghetto" has been removed from the site. The site now features an ethnically diverse family on its homepage.
In an email sent to Gawker, the app's team said it changed the name in response to emails from a woman whose family had been contained in an actual World War II ghetto and one from a man who grew up in a struggling area and went on to graduate from college and overcome his upbringing.
"I can't be held responsible for the assumptions people may make in regards to factors like race and income," the letter to Gawker continued. "I've seen comments on blogs and in twitter that are trying to say this is encouraging racism or social stratification and that was never our intention."
But critics have pointed out the app's adverse effects on the community, regardless of the app's intentions.
"It’s pretty detrimental to society when we reinforce the idea that poor or crime-heavy areas are places to be categorically avoided or shamed," David Holmes wrote on PandoDaily. "As if to assume that every person who lives in an area with comparatively high crime or poverty is a criminal, or that these areas are devoid of culture or positivity."
Also on HuffPost:
iPhone and Android users can agree: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mobile/" target="_hplink">Facebook's mobile app</a> is universally dysfunctional. We could go on and on about what irks us, but one of our biggest gripes has to be the push notifications. They're supposed to alert us to new messages or events, yet we frequently find we're being informed about old activity. Oh, and if you try to click through different features or menus too quickly, the app's bound to crash. Dislike.
Weather Channel App
Should you bring your umbrella for today's commute? Your <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.weather.Weather" target="_hplink">Weather Channel App</a> might tell you -- if it feels like updating to today's date. Too often we've left our rainboots by the front door because our app was stuck on yesterday's forecast.
YouTube on the web? The best. <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.youtube&hl=en" target="_hplink">YouTube for mobile</a>? The pits: The search function is horrible, and too many videos don't play correctly (if at all) on both Android and iPhone devices. Plus, listening to music via YouTube means the app must remain open, so you can't jam out and text at the same time.
Sure, she's entertaining enough. But does <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/siri.html" target="_hplink">Siri</a> really help with our daily lives? Not that much, no. We think the iPhone's voice-activated technology just isn't quite up to snuff yet. (We'll go right ahead and lump the Samsung Galaxy S III's <a href="http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxys3/feature.html#svoice" target="_hplink">S Voice</a> feature in here, too. It's awesome, but we hardly ever use it unless we're trying to show off.)
Gmail For iPhone
We love our <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gmail/id422689480?mt=8" target="_hplink">Gmail app</a>. We do. But those of us who use it on the iPhone are pretty sore that we still can't switch easily between two Gmail accounts. The Android users among us don't have to worry about this; but, just like the rest of us, they do find themselves cursing the app when it fails to sync with Google's servers (something that always seems to happen when we're expecting an important email).
Maps On iPhone
Where did that little blue dot go?! When walking or driving with Apple's <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/built-in-apps/maps-compass.html" target="_hplink">built-in Maps app</a>, powered by Google Maps, the moving blue dot is supposed to be the user's location...but occasionally it's not. When service is sketchy, this GPS function might say you are blocks away from where you really are. Plus, the estimated time of arrival can be very optimistic, meaning iPhone users who think their journey will take 20 minutes are typically about 20 minutes late. Hopefully Apple can solve these issues when it <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/apple-debuts-maps-app_n_1587726.html" target="_hplink">rolls out its very own Maps app</a> with iOS 6 this fall.
We think the <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bump/id305479724?mt=8" target="_hplink">Bump app</a> (for both iPhone and Android) is actually pretty cool. Users are supposed to "bump" each other's phones to exchange information via mobile devices. Unfortunately, no one ever seems to have this app when you actually want to use it.
This iPhone feature doesn't do much. Supposedly it'll organize your life into uncomplicated to-do lists, but we typically find ourselves using <a href="http://www.apple.com/osx/apps/all.html#notes" target="_hplink">Notes</a> or <a href="http://www.apple.com/osx/apps/#calendar" target="_hplink">iCal</a> instead. Someone please remind us why we should use <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/built-in-apps/reminders.html" target="_hplink">Reminders</a>? Nope... you can't remember either.