Doomed downloads: 10 apps you'll install and never use again

Doomed downloads: the apps you install and never use again
Sorry apps, it's not you it's me

If you can imagine it, there's an app for it. There are apps that turn your tablet into a range of tools. There are apps that make you fitter, happier and more productive. There are apps that fill empty hours and apps that fill your brain with new knowledge. And there are apps that you install once, think "that's brilliant!" and never, ever use again.

It's not that they're bad apps. Quite the opposite: most of them are great, which is why you heard about them and downloaded them in the first place. But as we've discovered, great isn't always good enough. Some apps fall out of favour because lesser technologies are still slightly faster. Others end up filed in a folder because the novelty wore off. And still others end up ignored because we installed them under false pretences.

These are our nominations for the apps we installed, messed about with and promptly forgot all about. What are yours? Let us know in the comments below...

1 Instapaper

iOS, Android


Instapaper: insta-forgetful

Instapaper does one thing fantastically well: it enables you to store things you think you'll read later but which you'll never, ever look at again. The problem isn't the app, which is lovely. It's that there's so much good stuff being shared online that it's impossible to read more than a fraction of it. Instapaper, like other reading apps such as Amazon's Kindle, suffers from a lack of visibility: there's nothing nagging you to read what you've saved, no piles of unread books or magazines taking up room and threatening to fall on your pets.

2 Clear



Clear is lovely but will soon drop off your app list

Clear is a beautiful list-making app with a genuinely innovative interface. Post-It notes are bits of coloured paper with glue on them. Guess which option we go for when we're writing shopping lists, timings for dinner or holiday packing lists? Clear's great but for everyday lists the combination of a Biro and a Post-It is faster and more convenient.

3 Word Lens

iOS, Android


Wordlens is clever but never used

Word Lens caused quite a kerfuffle in 2010: like a Babel Fish for the eyes, it automatically translates written words from one language to another. Maybe it's that you install it at home, so by the time you travel you've forgotten all about it. Or maybe it's because the language packs have to be bought separately. Either way it's suffered the same fate as every Augmented Reality app we've tried: a brief flurry of "woah! That's cool!" before forgetting about it completely.

4 Google Translate

iOS, Android

Google Translate

Google Translate: Mind your language

Google's translation app suffers from the same "install at home, forget about it by the time you travel" issue as Word Lens, but the main issue for us is mobile data: because data roaming currently costs so much we tend to keep mobile data disabled, and that means apps are only useful when we're on Wi-Fi. Translate's downloadable language packs do address that problem, but of course you need to remember to download them.

5 The 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th weather apps you install

iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Weather app

Weather apps: only used on rainy days

The stock weather app is okay, you think, but do Google or Yahoo really know what the weather's doing in Dundee or Dawlish? The Met Office does, so you install that - but it doesn't let you know what the weather's going to do in ten minutes, so you install Dark Sky for that. But that's not enough. There's BBC Weather, and The Weather Channel, and Weather Underground, and… by the time you've checked them all in the hope that one app will promise sunshine, it's dark and everybody's gone to bed.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.