The Flipper Zero — a dolphin-themed digital multitool — now has a mobile app store, which makes it much easier to browse and install third-party tools and plug-ins right from your phone. The marketplace is built into the latest version of Flipper’s official app, which is out today.
Quick recap: the Flipper Zero is cool as hell. It has sub-GHz wireless, RFID, NFC, and Bluetooth radios. It can receive and transmit infrared signals. It has a USB-C port and a row of GPIO ports on the top that let it interface with other hardware, including an add-on Wi-Fi board. Chris Person, writing for The Verge, called it a Swiss Army knife of antennas. You can use it to emulate Amiibos. You can use it as a universal remote or a USB Rubber Ducky. You can use it to root your vacuum cleaner — why not?
And it has a vibrant community that develops and shares new capabilities for it, which are now much easier to find.
It’s not that it’s been hard to add apps and features to the Flipper; it’s mostly been a matter of finding stuff on GitHub and dropping it onto your Flipper’s microSD card. But the app store is built right into the Flipper mobile app. It’s much easier to browse and use, and it installs apps directly to your Flipper over Bluetooth. All the apps are reviewed by the Flipper team, which should give you some confidence that they won’t break your device. Flipper Devices COO Alex Kulagin said in a statement, “The team hopes the launch of the store will provide developers with a massive distribution channel for their apps and experiments.”
Now, if you’re the type of person who can take full advantage of the Flipper Zero’s capabilities right out the gate, this might seem like unnecessary handholding. But in the email announcing the app marketplace, Yury Molodtsov — Flipper’s external spokesperson — wrote, “Over 350,000 customers use Flipper Zero to interact with wireless devices, such as IoT sensors, TVs, and ACs, and access control systems like garage doors, boom barriers, remote keyless systems, and RFID card systems.”
I’m willing to bet most of those 350,000 people aren’t master hackers. Most of them are just folks like me, messing around with a cool
Molodtsov told The Verge that there should be close to 100 applications when the marketplace launches (i.e., now). There are plenty of neat little utilities, like a dice roller, a tuning fork, a resistor calculator, Bluetooth camera remote, and a couple of Pomodoro apps as well as more ambitious programs like a hex editor, apps that let you interface with external devices like temperature and humidity sensors, and plenty of games.
I picked up a Flipper Zero earlier this year because it looked like a fun thing to mess around with. And it is! Before the app store, the most useful things I’d done with it are:
- Emulate Amiibos to impress my kids (and get items in Tears of the Kingdom)
- Store copies of various key fobs in case I lose them
- Use the universal IR remote to turn off someone else’s TV
After a few days of messing around with a preview version of the app marketplace, I can now add the following:
- Powered baby’s first breadboard LED circuit with the Flashlight app
- Used the Flipper as a remote trigger for my phone camera
- Rolled several virtual d20s
Not exactly Hackerman stuff, but it’s nice that the capabilities are easy to find. The Flipper Zero itself is also easier to find than it used to be. After a long stretch of limited availability (due in part to, uh, customs seizures), it seems to be continuously in stock on Flipper’s website, at least in the US and EU. Do you need this thing? Probably not. I just think it’s neat.