This article originally appeared on Motherboard in the US.
As someone who was dealt a hefty dose of social anxiety at birth, I’ve often wished for a phone call to interrupt whatever situation I’ve found myself in. I’m shocked that I haven’t spontaneously developed the power to telepathically communicate I want to escape this party yet—and I’ve definitely been guilty of inventing a whole-ass boyfriend just to wriggle out of awkward moments.
To help in those moments when you just needs to get away and recharge, Chloe Condon, a Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft, created an app that fakes a phone call from a robotic paramour to bail her out of awkward situations.
When she triggers the call with a remote bluetooth button (Flic from Shortcut Labs), the phone starts ringing. When she answers, a hilariously robotic voice states, “Call me. It is I, your boyfriend. Please call me as soon as you can. It is very urgent.” And then “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley plays, as she demonstrated on Twitter:
“I would be lying if I said I haven’t had one or two scenarios on the conference floor in previous roles where I wish I had some sort of app/hand-signal/telekinesis to flag down a friend to save me from an overly chatty attendee,” Condon told me in an email.
Condon describes herself as an ambivert—someone with characteristics of both introversion and extroversion—and told me in an email that her job as “a liaison between marketing, customers, and engineering” requires a lot of conferences, events and public speaking.
She made the app using the Microsoft automation app Azure Functions and an Azure Functions HTTP Trigger, according to a her blog post, to demonstrate how these tools can automate certain application tasks. In this first iteration of the app, the voice is automated, using TwiML text-to-speech to generate the spoken words. It sounds pretty goofy right now, but Condon told me that she plans to record new voices and scripts for added realism
While won’t be able to install the fake boyfriend app on your phone via the App Store or Google Play, programming-savvy folks can access the code in a GitHub repository and even personalize it.
Condon views this app as an example of why diversity in tech is important, she told me.
“Without diverse backgrounds, engineering teams, and customer input, apps with specific use cases for under-represented groups in tech such as this will not be made,” she said. “Perspective is incredibly important... If this app inspires even one woman to learn to program by seeing what can be built with technology—that’s a huge win for me.”
Some fake call apps like Condon’s already exist, whether for bail-outs or pranks. But Condon has made the code openly available, so you can personalize this one to your introverted heart’s content.
Because Condon put the app’s code on Github, others can play around and create their own versions. She envisions it being used for a variety of purposes—safety alerts between partners and friends, fake play-calls from Santa for kids, first date bail-outs, and of course the original use of escaping clingy conversations.