The initial visual presentation looks promising at first glance: a Puerto Rican cuatro shown horizontally, with the note name buttons for the strings written in solfege. To hear each string, users can tap the corresponding button. However, Cuatro Puertorriqueño Virtual quickly dupes users into thinking that it contains more content. As someone who has spent years researching the Puerto Rican cuatro, I downloaded the app in hopes that it would allow people to play the strings and frets of the of the cuatro within the confines of a virtual setting. I also thought that the app would present background information concerning the history of the cuatro, variants and audiovisual tutorials demonstrating cuatro performance practice (how modern versions of the cuatro mostly feature five pairs of plucked strings, how it sounds one octave lower than written, how performers sometimes apply tablature, etc.).
Cuatro Puertorriqueño Virtual does not include any of this previously mentioned content at all. It does contain any “drop-down” boxes with extra features, nor a “Settings” guide, nor a link to a full version of the program. Instead, it chooses to serve only one purpose: to function as a possible cuatro tuner. I find it more frustrating that this app promotes itself as something that it is not. To me, I understand that most music apps require money to offer full versions of software products. However, when a company offers a music app for free—only to leave users with next to nothing to experience, then they will most likely feel cheated and disappointed. I felt the same way after using Cuatro Puertorriqueño Virtual.
How, then, can one improve an app like Cuatro Puertorriqueño Virtual? Besides including the necessary content that I talked about earlier, it would probably prove beneficial for Lito Team (or another company) to partner with a foundation that specializes in the Puerto Rican cuatro: groups like the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project based in the mainland United States, or the Fundación Dr. Fancisco López Cruz, Inc. from Puerto Rico. Developers could also collaborate with the cuatro makers from these areas to help provide the necessary details concerning cuatro construction, acoustics and more. The Cuatro Puertorriqueño Virtual represents a start-- one that requires a lot more work and content than what is currently available to app users.
Cuatro Puertorriqueño Virtual is available for free on Google Play on Android smartphones.