Apps for New Year’s Resolutions
Making New Year’s resolutions is easy. Keeping them is the tricky bit. For our last “Geek Beat” segment of 2014, Burt and I talked about apps that just might help you keep the promises we make to ourselves every Dec. 31.
First up is Lift, which I’ve used for over a year. Unlike a “to do” list for random, one-off tasks, Lift helps you track daily goals. There are a lot of things you should do every day, and if you do them every day long enough, it becomes a habit. Walking 10,000 steps, drinking 100 ounces of water, writing for 30 minutes… the app encourages you by telling you when you’re on a winning streak (you really don’t want to miss a day after walking 10,000 steps for 20 days straight), and reminding you when you’ve missed a goal.
There’s also a social aspect, where you can see how other people with the same goal are doing, and trade advice on how to get better at it. And finally, if you’re really serious about a goal, like losing weight, you can pay to connect with a real-life coach to help you along.
Interestingly, the very day we featured this app on Hawaii News Now, the company announced that it was rebranding itself as Coach.me. As CEO Tony Stubblebine explained on Product Hunt, the company (1.) wanted to avoid confusion with other companies named “Lift” (or “Lyft”), and also wanted to pivot to put its one-to-one personal coaching service front and center.
I don’t think I’ll ever sign up for coaching, but the company insists that the daily goal tracking aspect of their app will stick around, and stay free.
Next up we talked about RunKeeper and Fitbit, which have been around a long time but are still great ways to encourage exercise. In addition to tracking your activity, both have social features so you can compete with friends.
Fitbit comes with both hardware and software, but I have to admit, even though smartphones now have pedometer functionality built in, there’s still something compelling about using an elegant little device. After destroying at least four Fitbit One devices in the wash, however, I’ve downgraded to the smaller, cheaper Fitbit Zip… and keep it on my keychain, rather than on my belt.
Finally, we featured Duolingo, also now a well-established app but one that is still quite remarkable. If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new language, Duolingo is wonderfully fun, surprisingly effective, and fortunately, completely free. (Suck it, Rosetta Stone.) My wife and daughter both use it to study French, and they’re getting pretty good at it, talking to (and sometimes yelling at) their iPhones every night.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at Duolingo, harnessing a lot of people to do some important work, but all that matters is that you want to use the app every day to practice learning Spanish, French, German, Italian… and they day they expand to Asian languages, I’m going to jump on board, too.