Since Microsoft released the breed classifying app on February 11, 2016, Fetch! has proven itself to be an easy, affordable, and convenient breed identification tool.
Fetch! vs. Current DNA Tests
The two genetic tests that dog owners can choose from—collecting cells from swabbing the dog’s cheek and collecting a blood sample of the dog—have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the testing preferences of the dog owner and the breed of the dog (WebMD). The swab test is the least accurate and non-invasive method while the blood test is the most accurate and invasive method. Also, both tests can confirm mixed-breeds up to a certain degree while confirming pure breeds with least likelihood (Hartz).
“[I]f a dog is mixed breed and comes from a great many breeds, each with just a small contribution to the total, then the breed [genetic] test may be unable to identify most or all of the breeds contributing to the dog.”
-a quote said by Dr. Nathan Sutter, which was referenced by WebMD
As Microsoft frequently updates the new Fetch! app’s AI technology and database with information collected from dog experts and kennel clubs, the app may become an excellent alternative method of breed classification for dog owners who want to receive precise results through non-invasive procedures.
In addition to the disadvantages of DNA tests for dogs is the price of those tests. Currently, there are a total of four U.S. companies that market mixed-breed genetic analysis tests that range from $60-$150 (Hartz). (The price of the DNA test is generally determined by the amount of dog breed information stored in a company’s database (WebMD).)
“[I] never knew [my dog’s] breed till I put her pictures on the app. I did a few pictures . . . looked up Tibetan Spaniel Chihuahua mix[,] and [found] pictures that looked exactly like my dog. Breed tests are $50-$100 where I live so I’m glad I found her breed for free :D”
-a review of the app posted by CalliDiamonds in the Apple App Store
Unless the dog owner trusts the reliability of genetic tests and is willing to pay for them, he or she may choose to download Fetch! for free, receive results from taking a picture of the dog with the app’s camera, and conduct their own research on their dog’s breed by comparing the closest breed match to other possible matches.
One other disadvantage of DNA tests is the time it takes for DNA samples to be analyzed, the results generated, and the report made available for viewing. One company called Wisdom Panel sends reports to dog owners within two to three weeks after samples have been received.
The amount of time it takes for dog owners to determine the breed of their dog through Fetch! varies (which is both a good and bad thing about the app’s reliability). For dog owners who are impatient, they can accept the app’s closest breed match result as their dog’s breed. But for other dog owners who have a little more patience and choose to research on the app, they may either identify their dog’s breed within a matter of days, weeks, months… or never be able to identify their dog’s breed at all.
Additional Features of the App
Although the main purpose of the app is to classify a dog by its breed, it can also identify other things besides dogs. When the user submits a photo that neither contains any dogs nor people in it, the app will try to determine what the subject of the photo is. For instance, if the user takes a picture of a flower, the app will display this message: “No dogs found! Hmmm… This looks more like… flower?” On the contrary, when the user submits a photo with a person in it and no dogs present, the app’s hidden playful feature is activated; the app classifies a person with a dog breed and provides an explanation on why he or she is that type of dog.
Any photo and breed information in that app can be saved in a scrapbook for users to refer back to. The scrapbook can either be used as a reference guide for users who are researching their dog’s possible breed, a dog lover’s photo collection, or simply a photobook filled with pictures of people and their dog type. (Those photos can be shared via social networks, text messages, and e-mail.)
Why Fetch! Is So Fetch
The app’s versatility, recognition features, quirky hidden features, and ever-expanding encyclopedia of dog breeds will make the app popular among both dog lovers and social networking users.
If Fetch! ever reaches a high level of popularity like Snapchat, cat lovers may create a similar app out of jealousy. Plus, once competition arises from the app’s popularity, more and more identifier apps may show up in the app stores. (Those identifier apps will not necessarily dog breed identifiers; they may identify other organisms and inanimate objects.)
All of those reasons listed above are why Fetch! so fetch! (For those of you who do not understand what I mean by ‘fetch,’ I mean ‘cool.’ That definition was adopted from the movie Mean Girls.)
Let’s make fetch happen.
Learn more about the Fetch! app at the Microsoft Garage website.
“Dog DNA Tests: Why Your Mutt’s Makeup Matters.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dog-dna-testing>.
“FAQs.” Wisdom Panel. Wisdom Panel, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <http://www.wisdompanel.com/why_test_your_dog/faqs/>.
“Fetch! A Microsoft Garage Project on the App Store.” App Store. Apple, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fetch!-microsoft-garage-project/id1050367912>.
“Fetch! New Microsoft Garage App Uses Artificial Intelligence to Name That Breed.” News Center. Microsoft, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <http://news.microsoft.com/features/fetch-new-microsoft-garage-app-uses-artificial-intelligence-to-name-that-breed/>.
“Genetic Testing and Your Mixed Breed Dog.” Hartz.com. Hartz, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <http://www.hartz.com/Dogs/Getting_Started/Genetic_Testing_and_Your_Mixed_Breed_Dog.aspx>.