Apps - let technology help you
“That’s sad. How plastic and artificial life has become. It gets harder and harder to find something…real.”
Nin interlocked his fingers, and stretched out his arms.
“Real love, real friends, real body parts…”
Jess C Scott
The world of technology is changing and it is changing fast.
And that also means the world of apps and our appetite to have apps
that help us, make life easier, be more informed, and entertain us.
The word "app" is an abbreviation for "application" a piece of software
that can run in a web browser or offline on your computer, and on a
smartphone phone, tablet or other electronic device, including smart
TVs and smartwatches. Apps may or may not have a connection to
You will find both free and paid apps. Do your research.
You can get apps for almost any topic you care to think about –
from meditating to purchasing from your preferred supermarket, from tourist apps for cities, countries, and leisure pursuits, to health apps which motivate you to reach your health and fitness goals by tracking your activity, exercise, sleep, weight and more.
Health apps have the potential to be adapted and used by both the public and healthcare professionals. They have enormous potential for training and professional development in healthcare. And more and more, apps are being devised for almost any aspect of health and well-being eg nutrition and diet, monitoring workouts, monitoring sleep, mental health, information, and so on.
Among the potential benefits of health apps include the improving of the patient/physician relationship by promoting shared health management; connecting patients with peer and support communities online to more actively engage them in their own care; assisting caregivers in following the patient’s instructions; and providing useful patient data to both the patient who is self-monitoring and their medical practitioner.
But all apps are not created equally! Some are highly effective, some simply helpful, and yet others, in the health field, lack rigour and latest health evidence support. For example, the problem with most NHS-recommended mental health apps is that there’s no evidence they actually work. Check out here
How to Choose an App Wisely
The first rule of selecting an app is to do some pre-planning thinking on paper!
Be clear on what topic the app has to cover eg is it about monitoring a pregnancy,
accessing recipes for a specific diet, helping you sing opera style, monitoring sleep,
or what? Really be clear, not vague. There's more than a million apps out there;
you are looking for one to serve a specific function.
So write down what do you need the app to be able to do.
Write it down on your paper - use paper because if you do this online or just
in your head, you'll get distracted by all sorts of pretty unrelated apps. So, what
do you need the app to do? Especially if you're buying for a mobile device, consider
these needs, which are easy to overlook:
Do you need the app to be able to back up its data you create?
Do you need to be able to sync the app with your desktop or other devices to access the data?
Do you need to be able to import/export the app's data, or transfer it to other apps?
Do you need the app to be compatible with multiple platforms? (e.g. if you don't want to be locked into iPhone/Android)
Remember, don't just randomly browse an on-line app store. You will get side-tracked and use up a lot of time and emotional energy and possibly get annoyed and frustrated.
Is the app easy to access, easy to understand, easy to use?
When you alight on a possible app you think of buying, ask, “Do I really need this app? Will I use it?" Listen to your inner ding. If it shrieks and hollers, that means no.
If you don't immediately and passionately answer Yes, that also means no.
Find out – is the app free, ie really free, or could you be caught out down the line having to pay for its continued use?
Question again, will this app fill a real need or is it just an impulse buy? EG If you believe you do need the app, ask how you are accomplishing the task now and then ask how the app is going to help you further. EG "Right now, I use a lot of journals and notepads to create this website by writing ideas and references in pencil then finding it difficult to remember where I put what. Having an app would help because I could save and catalogue memos and easily find them for reference later."
Or, “Right now I have to depend on my memory to wake at a particular time and go through my fitness routine etc. With the app, I can set an alarm, be guided in my routine, have the app monitor and record my progress and give me pointers for change, point out when I am doing well or need to shake things up a bit.”
Really do your research – for medical apps, consider :-
Is the app developed by a reliable company?
Is it based on solid sound evidence?
How precisely does it meet your need?
Have you compared it with other apps for function AND price?
Are you being taken in by marketing hype?
If you find a website that reviews apps, how effective is the site? Here is an example.
Remember – an app can remind you to do something – you still have to do it.
Choose an app and decide on it. If you think you want to look for a better one, the same rules still apply: review your needs on paper, consider alternative solutions, do a price check, be honest about whether you need it, and set a time limit. If you are not using it, delete it.
Once you have an app, put a note in your calendar to revisit it in a month. If you haven't worked it into your life by then, delete it. We have enough clutter in our lives without needing to add virtual clutter as well.
The app should enhance your life. Enjoy your apps, but use them consciously and deliberately. They should add quality and ease to your life not have you be a slave to them.