Ideas for building an app to survive a zombie apocalypse.

This article first appeared on Velasophy in August 2017.

building the perfect app - zombie apocalypse header

It’s early evening, and you’re sitting at the table munching on a lobster roll from your favorite sushi joint. You grab your phone and start scrolling through the latest reddit chatter about G.O.T. when a banner alert flashes across the top of the screen. A nationwide distribution of bath salts from the Crusty Soap & Salt Company (a subsidiary of Nonya Business, Inc.) was accidentally tainted by an experimental formula being developed for a top-secret military program. All products should be destroyed immediately.

While congratulating yourself on the decision to put off a good foot soak until after dinner and imagining all the clever “down the drain” puns you’ll be using at the office tomorrow, you flip on the TV and look up Newsy on the Roku. To your horror, reports are flooding in about madness and mayhem in the streets. Cities are burning, economies are crashing and normal everyday folks are turning into rampaging, face-eating psychopaths. There will be no puns shared. The end of the world as we know it has arrived.

twotwawki app thumbnail for siri to open

With a loud pop, the TV goes black, and the house lights start to flicker. You grab your bug-out bag, a crossbow and your new iPhone 25. You raise the phone and the DNA sensor acknowledges your ownership. Screams from throughout the subdivision shatter the night air as you force yourself to ask Siri to launch the one app that you had hoped and prayed to never use.

“Siri, open TEOTWAWKI.”

This is just one of the many scenarios we must consider while building the perfect app for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. From the time the app is launched until the device is irreparably damaged, it must do its job easily and seamlessly.

The interface must be simple. Once launched, a user will not have time to learn navigational elements or clever visual wizardry, as they will most likely be running from a horde of bloodthirsty monsters. Simple design and thin layering will be preferred. As will large buttons for adrenaline-fueled shaking hands.

The functionalities are the crux of this build. It must be geared toward keeping the user alive for as long as possible. Otherwise the user base will shrink exponentially. It should include:

  • Peer-to-peer Bluetooth communication (for the inevitable fall of the mobile phone companies)
  • Downloadable maps for local content:
    • Highways, backroads and hiking trails
    • Waterways, lakes and ponds
    • Grocery and convenience stores
    • Sporting goods stores
    • Shelters
    • Hospitals
    • Police and fire stations
  • Reference materials:
    • “The Vegan’s Foraging & Calorie Intake Guide” (ex., Should I eat these mushrooms? If so, how many?)
    • “Shelter Building 101” (“In Living Color” reruns featuring “This Old Box”)
    • “Martha Stewart’s How to Sew and Repair Clothing” (Also useful for stitching cuts)
    • “How to Hit a Home Run” – the Babe Ruth Method
    • “The Idiot’s Guide to Morse Code”
  • Notifications, alerts and check-ins (utilizing the peer-to-peer network)
    • Family location tags (i.e., Find My Survivors)
    • Horde and outbreak notifications
    • Emergency services alerts
    • “Still Alive” check-ins

While the list above may seem obvious, it lacks the most important functionality necessary to fend off an unexpected killer while hiding for your life – boredom. A good round of Hangman, Words with Me or even Solitaire will do wonders to lift the spirits of the post-apocalyptically impaired. Not to mention that a positive attitude can go a long way toward increasing one’s chances of survival (and increase user retention rates).

The scope and possibilities of building an app of this nature may seem daunting. And if you ever find yourself feverishly launched into the design and development of this life-saving endeavor, I’d highly recommend using the Demographic, Experience, Augmentation, Design, Metrics, Alerts and Notifications methodology – also known as “D.E.A.D.M.A.N.” More about that in a future post. Unless the SHTF.

It will take a village to survive the Zombie Apocalypse – and your next app build. And Vela will be there for both. Contact us to learn more!