Music, Internet, Google Maps, telephone calls, taking photos, and now fixing your broken relationship… is there anything the iPhone can’t do?
For most of us, the iPhone makes life better — it’s like a gorgeous bio-mechanical addition to our bodies: augmenting almost everything. And, in an odd sort of way, I suppose it seems natural that this super-device — this digital deity — should turn its attention to our relationships, in an effort to make life better. To make our relationships just work.
Available for iPhone and iPod touch, RelationTips aims to proffer advice and helpful suggestions for your close relationships.
The app begins with a quick configuration process. There are eight empty picture frames, in which you can access advice for eight different relationships, with accompanying photo, from a pre-defined selection: husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend, son and daughter. Having eight relationship slots will come in handy for users with several children. Or a mistress.
Intuitive to configure and with a beautifully designed interface, RelationTips feels like a luxury item from the App Store. Attention has been lavished on the smallest details, with welcome embellishments such as being able to change the type of frame on photos of your loved-ones.
The advice proffered is split in to three different categories. The Dates category provides suggestions for things to do, such as train journeys, picnics or a day at the movies. If you’re in need of inspiration for something to say, the Words category focuses on communication. Finally, if you feel like actions speak louder than words, the Actions category contains pearls of wisdom like, “Surprise your husband by cleaning out his car and gassing it up.”
With Dates focused on injecting fun and/or romance in to the things you do with your partner or child. The Words and Actions category offer up suggestions that are intended to display or communicate how important this person is to you, or how much you love them. The language is occasionally a little stuffy, but most of the time (aside from the amusing example above) it’s arguably good advice.
However, there are a couple of problems with the library of advice. The first being that the suggestions, regardless of who they are aimed at, are much the same — even to the point where your husband is swapped for your wife — it’s just not personalized enough. The other problem is that there isn’t that much advice to go off: it’s not long at all before the helpful suggestions start looping and the ideas run dry.
We’ve Got Issues
The advice offered up by RelationTips isn’t always useful, though. Playing the role of iPhone-toting wife, the first piece of advice proffered to me was the following: Is there a chore that really needs to be done but seems to always get pushed down the line in priority? Tell your husband you’ll wear his favorite lingerie and help him complete it. He’ll make the time.”
It’s true, if my partner put on her lingerie and helped me to complete a given task, like clearing the blocked gutters, this would indeed be a welcome encouragement (I suppose someone has to hold the ladder).
However, this shining nugget of advice is merely a lump of steaming fool’s gold. It would be a shame if my partner felt that in order to encourage me to do something helpful for both of us, she had to objectify herself in this way. If the relationship is at this point, maybe there are deeper issues worth discussing. I dig a bit of naughty fun, but in this instance the advice just seems like the wrong way to be tackling the situation (and impractical too — holding a ladder in your lingerie can get uncomfortably cold).
The idea behind RelationTips, to provide gentle relationship guidance, is very sweet. However, if your relationship is in such a condition that you really are turning to an iPhone for this kind of support, there may be deeper issues at play. This app won’t fix what is already broken and, conversely, it’s more than likely not needed if your relationship is working. There are some things that an iPhone probably shouldn’t do and one of those things is dishing out automated morsels of relationship advice.
That said, I can see this app providing support for individuals as part of a larger effort to improve a relationship. For those that may have trouble communicating, need ideas for romantic treats or inspiration for meaningful displays of affection, RelationTips may not fix your relationship, but it could provide a point in the right direction.