The Android Headlines site yesterday featured a review of a popular mobile tarot app called Tarot Cards Reading and Numerology | Tarot Life by Innovana Techlabs of Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. For those of you who follow this site, you know that we tend to explore the symbols and meanings of historical tarot in our quest to understand the structured information system that tarot is. This particular application stores its tarot meanings in a database, and filters the output based on a random draw and user input. It is an example of one aspect of understanding tarot through analyzing the informatics aspect of it. We add a review of the review to our Elsewhere series on tarot.
Before we provide a description of the review, let’s describe the app. In it, the cards appear to be a modified Radiant Rider Waite. They have a very dark background, a strong focus on the central images, and gold borders. I am not sure if there’s a printed version of this deck for sale, but I have seen these on a few websites. The reading layout choices consist of 1,3,5,6 or 7 card readings, modified according to the category/context of your question (love, career, finance, yes/no; the daily tarot, rather than being a card-of-the-day is a single card draw in response to a question). One option provides a one card reading in response to a “canned” question which you can pick from a provided list of several such questions. Each card in the results has one boiler plate paragraph (approx. 65 words) conveying its meaning within the chosen context. No effort is made to relate the cards or boil down the three meanings into a single conclusion. The cards are not re-sizable, a significant failing. They appear, in the course of several different draws and types of draws that I attempted, to be major arcana only. As apps go, it is not very sophisticated; for example, it is portrait mode only; and we already mentioned the cards can’t be resized to magnify the many symbols that Waite Colman Smith included in their illustrations. Based on the repetition of responses, it utilizes a small database, which is to be expected in a free app. My summary conclusion as to the quality of the app is that it is a minimal effort meant to deliver the best revenue results (ad impressions) for the least amount of work. I do applaud the app for at least attempting to filter the response according to the self-classified question. The app also has a numerology module, but that is not the subject of this review.
To his credit the reviewer provides a short introduction to tarot: its history and divinatory capabilities. The article may need a bit of editing, as witness this excerpt:
This reading in earlier times was very different and confined. It was done under the veils in a dark and dull yet positive place. A tarot card clairvoyant that looked not really normal. Let’s fast forward to this scenario.
It is possible that the reviewer’s native language is not English, as several other examples of awkward writing are evident, but the meaning comes across.
The reviewer makes no attempt to compare the app with other tarot apps, and concludes that Tarot Life is the app to download on the basis of total downloads recorded by the Google Play Store. The app store rating is 4.7. In fact, a search in Google Play on the word “tarot” alone brings up two apps with 4.9 and 4.8 ratings, and several with the same 4.7 rating.
The bottom line question, for both reviewer and app is this: is it likely to reward the average person who knows a little, but not much about tarot, who expects some level of divination or answer to a question important to themself? For someone with no experience with tarot at all, it could conceivably serve as an introduction. We would have to hope that the little there would be enough to whet the appetite of such a person, so that they could experience tarot not just for fortune-cookie wisdom, but for the self exploration and social analysis capabilities that a proper understanding can sometimes provide.
I don’t think the app would hold the attention of the type of person who has ever had a face-to-face or even a remote/skype reading. I have lots of storage free on my phone, yet I uninstalled it immediately after having explored it enough to ascertain the impression noted above.
The reviewer’s conclusion regarding the app is:
The most appreciable thing that the app is capable of doing is uplifting the spirit of an individual. It guides them in the light of positivity. So if you are feeling low, you can consult the Tarot Life app for some motivation.
Certainly that’s not a terrible crime. I applaud the reviewer. I give them points for a small amount of research and an attempt to inform. P.T. Barnum is reputed to have said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Though both app and review were at times underwhelming, they are both a net plus for tarot and those that love tarot.
The Google Play Store page may be found here.