Three golden rules for apps (Blue Wings 8/2016)

Kansanedustajien blogit

The multitude of mobile applications available have probably changed your life – and likely for the better. Android and iOS users have more than 4 million applications available to them. The most popular are games – which comprise one quarter of all apps. Then come business (10 per cent), education (9 per cent), lifestyle (9 per cent), and entertainment (6 per cent). Other popular apps include travel (4 per cent), books (3 per cent), health and fitness (3 per cent), and music (2.5 per cent).

Just have a look at your smart phone and count the number of things that you used to do differently. Let’s start with the obvious for someone on a Finnair flight: travel.

A number of travel apps will sort out your whole itinerary from flights to accommodation and ground travel. If you’re like me, you haven’t done a physical check-in or seen a printed boarding card for a while.

When I travel I often use Uber for taxi services, Airbnb for accommodations and Yelp! for restaurant recommendations. No need for phone calls, Yellow Pages, or cash and they’re all easy and efficient to use.

The same goes for general transport. Top range cars such as Tesla are now connected to applications that give you all the necessary data. Parking is easier if you use an app. Public transport schedules are all handily available on your smart phone. A navigation app will tell you the fastest and cheapest way from point A to B.

How about sports and health? Remember the time when youhad to second-guess your running distance and stop to measure your heart rate? I use Suunto Movescount, Wattbike powerapp, Strava, and Sports Tracker to monitor my own health and exercise activities. And when I do sports I often listen to Spotify or my AccuRadio application.

There are, however, a few golden rules that you should keep in mind with health and sports apps.

Rule number one: An app is a good servant, but a bad master. The apps that take measurements automatically – without you having to manually enter the info – are usually the best. Steps, heart beat, or sleep cycles are fun to look at when you do not need to be worrying about them all the time.

Rule number two: What you measure is what you get. If you start recording daily steps you are most likely to take a few extra ones during the day. We have a tendency to want to be good at what we are interested in and studies show that it takes, on average, 66 days to create a good – or bad – habit.

Rule number three: Gamification works. Many of the health apps use challenges to keep you motivated. Getting to the next Pokémon Go level is a good way to get you off the couch.

The point with apps, as with most things, is to use them in moderation. They are useful tools for making life easier, but if you start using them as a substitute for common sense, you just might get lost. Remember that the next time you use a navigation app on your run to a health store.