Saturday, 30 April 2011

There's an App for That

A month ago, I finally succumbed and bought an iPhone4.  It's only taken me 3 (or is it 4?) years.  I think I started my "iPhone fund" when they were first released.  I've wanted a smart phone forever - I like the concept of the multi-purpose device: phone, camera, pocket computer, portable internet access - but the iPhone was something better.  It may not have the best camera or the best battery life, but one big thing makes it market leader.   And the thing that makes it better?  The Apps.

The Apps are Apple's genius.  Anyone can develop an App and sell it through the App store.  And that immediately gave Apple competitive advantage over their rivals.  Want to keep notes on your future projects?  KnitMinder does that.  Need to convert currency?  There's an App for that.   Want to catalogue your novels?  My Library does that by reading the bar-codes on the back of your books.  There are Apps for budgeting, for counting calories, for mapping the route of your morning run.

It was (what?) another year before the competition caught up?  And that involved them adopting a third-party operating system, Android, so that they could offer a large enough customer base to make it worthwhile for developers to create Apps for their phones too.

All this is a long preamble to explaining why I forked out £429 on an iPhone.  I did look at the competition but, in the end, it was one App that swung it in favour of the iPhone, the Weight Watchers' App.  I have been a member of Weight Watchers since 2003, when I lost 28lb for my wedding and kept most of it off for two years.  My weight ballooned upwards when my thyroid started acting up and I feel like I've been fighting a losing battle ever since.  Some of the problems were always having to lug the books around or needing to go on-line to point up foods and recipes or the constant necessity to update the restaurant and shopping guides.  Oh, and Weight Watchers have changed the entire basis of their programs three times since I first bought one of their recipe books back in the 1980's.

As far as I'm concerned, all of those problems have been solved by their iPhone App, which not only replaces all the books but allows you to track your points and your weight both on your phone and on-line.  Unlike the Android App, it fully replicates the functionality of the Weight Watchers website.  (The Android App is only a points calculator.)  Even better, the App syncs with it, so I can point up recipes on the website then find them on my phone to add to my tracker later on (e.g. when I grab a container of mystery lunch from the freezer, defrost it at work and then discover it was beef chilli instead of the curry I was expecting).   Also, I can point up items while I'm walking around the supermarket, which makes it less of a guessing game and easier to choose a sandwich, if I need to buy one.

Why not just rely on their website?  Well, I've been a subscriber for eight years, but this makes it so much easier.  I don't have the hassle of switching on my home PC or logging in.  It's all there on my phone and I can sync whenever I have WiFi access or via 3G.  I didn't need to go to a meeting to pick up the new books or update the restaurant guide, either.

I've been using the Weight Watchers App for two weeks now and lost 5lb in the process.   I haven't eaten typical diet food either during that time, just a normal diet (including burgers, pavlova and wine at an Anzac Day BBQ).  This is great tool and I can thoroughly recommend it.

- Pam

No comments: