VENICE BEACH, California -- If you haven't heard of the 2048 app yet, you will. The numbers puzzle shot to the top of the top app download chart this week, and has been the talk of the Internet.
Like the Flappy Bird craze of earlier this year, it's already produced dozens of clones.
The app is like Candy Crush Saga, in that you match numbers by sliding them across a board, but unlike other popular mobile games it's purely numbers based, more akin to Sudoko or KenKen than character based apps like Angry Birds.
Fawn Nguyen, a middle school California math teacher, says one of her students complained this week that he didn't even have time to brush his hair in the morning, because of the app. "I've gotten hooked on it."
The origin of 2048 shows many fathers and mothers. In the beginning of the year a paid puzzle game, Threes ($1.99) was released, and then a few weeks later, Gabriele Cirulli, a then 19-year-old Italian student, posted his own free, altered version of the game, as 2048 on his website, and it started getting heavy play there. Cirulli says the game attracts 5 million players weekly on his site.
App developer Ketchapp, also known for the Flappy Fish, Grabby Bird and Camera FX Pro apps, released its 2048 app on March 18, and has since been honored with tons of clone variations, like 1024, 2048VS and 2048Wow.
Ketchapp says its app is "inspired" by Cirulli who says he doesn't mind the clones, "as long as they add new, creative modifications to the game."
Paul Salomon from St. Louis says he enjoys watching so many people take off on the original.
"It's really fun to see what people come up with, and mathematically, they really interest me."