Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

App review: Lift and the quantified self

Life hacking, self tracking, the quantified self; call it want you want, using technology to help track and improve your health and wellbeing is one of the fastest growing areas in digital.  Many respected bloggers are starting up blogs to cover this subject, like Stephen Davies’ Bionic.ly and Drew Benvie’s bodydata.

One of the most highly anticipated launches in this area was for lift.do, mainly because two of its backers are twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone.  They have a lofty stated aim to “push the envelope of human potential through positive reinforcement”.

I’ve been using the beta app for a few weeks now and wanted to share my initial thoughts.  Firstly, it’s a great concept, and the app itself is, as you’d expect from a team this experienced, simple and intuitive to use.  You essentially decide on which ‘habits’ you want to track, like sleeping for 8 hours, doing more exercise or eating healthier (you can add your own, more random ones, if you like) and then every time you complete a habit, you check-in.  Over time you can see how you’ve performed with each habit.  You can see when other users check-in to a habit and you can give people ‘props’ for completing a habit.  There are a few other features, like the fact that you can add a commentary when you check-in but that’s essentially it.

The biggest question mark I have with the app in its current format (and obviously it’s only beta) is that there’s not much motivation to encourage you to keep using it. I open it, check-in, close it.  Not sure what their longer term plans are but for me there needs to be more of a connection between what you’re doing and what others are doing. You don’t have a community of friends/followers as with other networks and so it’s hard to build up a sense of relationships with other users.  Without this the app is a little bit, well, dull.

Hopefully the next version will address this.  There’s definitely something in lift but it needs more to motivate me to keep using it beyond it being a simple record of healthy/positive things I’ve done.

 

The 7-day no phone crash diet

I’ve just done something that I haven’t done for over three years, well 10 years depending on which way you look at it.
About three weeks ago I was coming out of the gym, pulled my iphone out of my pocket and wham, dropped it on the floor and completely smashed the screen.  So it had to go away to be repaired with the words buzzing in my ears from the insurance company that it could take “up to 10 days to be fixed”.  10 days?!! Were they out of their minds?

Now I pause at this point to acknowledge that I fully realise not having a phone for 10 days is hardly catastrophic in the scheme of things but it’s given me a short sharp shock into the reality (positive and negative) of a life lived in the thrall of the small screen.

So what did I find?

*I am utterly and completely addicted to tapping away on my bloody iphone.  There I said it.  Obvious, right? Well yes and no, I did realise how much time I spend swiping up and down timelines, checking in, checking emails, sharing photos, looking at photos, commenting on photos, updating, sharing, searching, listening to podcasts, checking the weather and numerous other trivial and not so trivial actions but when it’s not there anymore you really feel the gaping hole that was there and appreciate just how much time you waste spend on it.

*Without the phone, I let go of twitter since without the real-time aspect, I lost interest.  It just didn’t have the same grip.

*The three things I missed most: Instagram, mobile search and my beloved This American Life podcasts, particularly while travelling.

*For a couple of days when I was out and about I borrowed my son’s, basic to the core, Samsung (see the pic).  And for a brief time there was something nice about having a phone that only does two things: make calls and send texts.  Without any clutter on the phone, I didn’t have the ever present, unconscious ‘tap tap’ in my head, that causes me to launch twitter, check email, browse Instagram and on and on (from the minute I wake up until, quite literally, the moment I go to sleep).  I’ve always been someone with a surfeit of nervous energy.  In that respect technology is bad for me, it compounds my tendency to be constantly fiddling with stuff.  Without my phone I was, stiller.

So, I missed my phone and…I didn’t miss my phone.  I was inwardly ashamed at how utterly delighted I was when it turned up a whole three days early, you’d have thought I’d was being reunited with a long lost love. It was interesting (although I don’t want to repeat it). I’m trying to learn from the experience and be more mindful of how technology can seep under your skin without you really noticing how deep it has embedded itself into you.

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