Apple's iPad goes from wow to meow: Pet apps on the rise

iPad savvy cats, dogs and frogs are the new tech-market

Just when you thought you had painstakingly given into – or forever excluded the option of – buying an iPad for your offspring, the iPad has drawn the attention of yet another member of your family – your pet.

“I have to buy him an iPad,” sighs Bonita while she is looking at her cat who cannot keep his eyes of her laptop. “Every movement on the screen is interesting to him, and he will respond by walking over my keyboard, anticipating the sounds it might create.”

App developers have noticed the new demand too. During the last couple of months the market has expanded with applications specially designed for pets. Floating fishes, crawling ants and a cat piano are some of the features that are to excite the new audience.

“I bought an application with floating fishes for my two cats,” tells Ruslan Karimov. The floating fishes disappear as soon as the cat has captured them with his paw. “They do not react quite well to it. They are more going crazy over hearing voices from the iPad.”

Most applications are addressing the senses of the cat and can be found on Apple’s iOS platform, working best on the iPad as it is big enough and scratch safe. “The iPad is my cats' favourite toy and they can spend hours playing with it. The days of playing with a simple string or a ball are over; talk about evolution!” tells cat-owner Anja.

Dogs, albeit smaller in size, might find their way on the iPad too.

Unexpected new iPpad fans are the frog and chameleon that were pulled into gaming by the Ant Crusher application, where crawling ants disappear with a touch on the screen; both the frog and chameleon are seen using their tongue when confronted with the motion on screen and many iPad users had to conclude these reptiles were far better players than they were.

Ruslan Kamirov is managing director of Eventagrade, a Dubai-based application developer. Although he was willing to try out how his feline friends received the new toys, he laughs when discussing the trend as the new market idea.

“The whole idea sounds a little bit weird. If you want to develop a good application, you would have to invest time in this by studying the pet psychologically in order to understand its reactions. Animal protection activists might not be very happy about that. And I do not think that anybody has taken this up so far.”

The pet applications currently on the market are simple and dubbed “one-week applications” by Ruslan. “These are applications that do well for a week or so. They are not very complicated and I do not expect a large budget behind them.”

Jenny Sanders, a Dubai-based vet, compares the applications to any toy you buy for your pet. “You think that this is something your pet might like, but often the pet plays with it for five minutes and then forgets about it. You can never really understand what your pet likes.”

Developing the right application for the newly-discovered market is therefore maybe not what this is all about. In the end, it is the pet owner that decides to spoil the cat or dog a little and the pet itself can care less. “For the pet there is not really recognition of what is on the screen. It is not the same as reality,” says Jenny.


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