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the Gauntlet

Confession: a Roman Catholic app isn't a good idea

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Little iApps has faced a variety of well-deserved reactions for their iPhone app, Confession: a Roman Catholic App, which is targeted at pious sinners. The app, which aims to help the forgetful during confessionals, was developed with help from actual reverends and with official church imprimatur.

The Catholic Church has been quick to point out that their approval of and help in creating an iPhone app to aid in confessionals is in no way suggesting that confession need not be done in person. But that the Catholic Church would want to adopt or endorse an app at all is hilarious. Bandwagon-jumping seems out of place for a prestigious and ancient organization like the church, even if it is an attempt to leverage Apple's success as a stopcock agains their own leaky pews.

To be clear: this app isn't bad only on the grounds of its dubious spiritual benefits. The iOS universal app is both ugly and incredibly buggy, making it the worst app I've ever paid for. This is the only app in my library less functional than my Klingon dictionary.

Confessions is not set up as you'd hope -- it's more of a to-do list of sins, only not nearly as fun as that sounds. Upon launching the app for the first time, you're required to set up a profile which requests your age, sex, birthday, vocation (by which they mean married, single or priest) and date of last confession. It also allows for passwords, should you wish to keep track of your sins on someone else's iPhone. This user set up led to the incredible error message "Invalid Selection: Sex and Vocation are incompatible" when the creation of a female priest's profile was attempted.

To actually record sins, you need to launch the app and go to something called the "Examination of Conscience" tab, which prompts an unacceptably long five- to 10-second loading screen. A list of sins, sorted by commandment, is provided along with the option to create custom sins for the particularly naughty. The app does not provide a how-to for forgiveness, it mearly keeps track of all your wrong-doings for a later date. An immutable "Responsibilities to God" category is also eternally blank, a hilarious sentiment certainly not intended. The app, forever seeking to help the forgetful sinner, also includes a list of the prayers.

If the wrongs you commit are so trivial that simply conversing with a stranger is enough to exonerate you, fiddling with your phone is a wholly unnecessary step. Everything about this app is stupid, from its very concept to its ugly, buggy implementation.

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