What a difference a decade makes. Prior to Facebook being incubated in a Harvard dorm room, Mark Zuckerberg was tinkering with a lesser known website, he called: "Facemash." Considered his version of the college game, "Hot or Not?" -- the website used photos compiled from the online 'facebooks' of nine Harvard dormitories, placing two co-ed head shots next to each other while asking users to choose the “hotter” person. Flash forward ten years, and Andrea Arden's DogFun app for pet owners asks a similar question regarding their pets.
While Zuckerberg's website raised the ire of the university's Advisory Board, due the breach of privacy rights, NYC pet-trainer Andrea Arden has developed a much milder and good-spirited app experience for pet owners.
When interviewing Andrea Arden today, she noted her app included the Who's Cuter? feature "to fulfill a dog enthusiasts desire - dare I say - need." To avoid the privacy issues incurred with programs such as Zuckerberg's Facemash, Mighty Mack, the developers of the app have included an opt-in mechanism before one's dog pics are viewable by others using the app.
There is also a submission process built-in where images are reviewed by the development team before they're entered into the system. This eliminates the possibility that questionable or NSFW images will be added. "You can share the app and encourage one's friends to contribute their dog photos and then stayed tuned to see your images added to this friendly competition," notes Arden.
Arden decided on working with the development company because she lacked the technical knowledge to design an educational and resourceful tool for dog owners on her own. "I am most definitely not technologically savvy," said Arden, "so I made sure to partner with a company that had a proven track record and that was ready, willing and able to be patient with me, in addition to being enthusiastic about developing a playful and creative app."
"Regardless of how gung-ho someone is to create an app, I think it is wise to take time to do your research and to set out a plan with specific and tiered goals for the project," added Arden.
In addition to Who's Cuter?, the app has multi-functionality. It includes training exercises, ideas for fun activities to do with your four-legged friend, tips on dealing with behavioral problems, as well as tools to help you find help in case of an emergency.
The app also taps into your phone’s GPS with a well-designed proximity (i.e. "Nearby") feature to help you find pet-friendly locations such as dog runs, parks, pet stores, and veterinarians located close-by.
The Trivia Games button includes 175 different quizzes designed to entertain users testing their knowledge of things like history, dog breeds, celebrity dogs, and dog training.
The Lessons section gives the reader insight on how to make the most of their dog's intelligence, energy, and agility, how to prevent and resolve behavior issues, and how to enhance their relationship with their dog. This section has over twenty lessons written by Andrea herself!
The app features daily News and updates by Andrea Arden herself about health and wellness, training and behavior, and dog related happenings and news.
So while Arden's app is a welcomed resource for pet owners, Facemash --for those that remember -- crashed Harvard's computer servers due the excessive surge in traffic at the time of their launch in '03. Since Zuckerberg disbanded the project, the domain name of Facemash was auctioned off to an unknown buyer for the rumored sum of $30K in 2010, and there has been a series of "copy cats" who have latched on to the concept with varying degrees of success since. Don't think that will be the case with Ms. Arden's canine app - sounds like too much fun - with the right safety measures built-in! Check out free downloads here.