Want to Really Keep Those New Year's Resolutions? Try This.
BY Carolyn Cutrone
Give your 2014 goals a fighting chance with these mobile apps.
Many (if not most) New Year's resolutions become memories minutes after they're hatched. But some app makers are hoping to end this vicious cycle.
Banking on the fact that smartphone owners keep close proximity to their devices 24 hours a day, mobile-app providers are whipping up programs that aim to whip you into shape. So no matter if you're resolute about achieving your resolutions or you have the will power of an ant, here are some apps that are raring to help keep you on track this year:
GymPact, recently renamed Pact, is a free app that pays you when you meet your fitness and diet goals and charges you when you don't. How does it work? First you set goals such as exercising four times a week or eating a certain serving of vegetables a day. You must prove via GPS or a photo that you completed your workout or ate the right kind of food. If you meet your commitments, you can earn between 30 cents and $5 a week. But for every activity you miss, a minimum of $5 is taken directly out of your bank account, which must be linked to the app upon signing up. Money is a high motivator as the app has a 92 percent success rate of users meeting their weekly goals.
If you're trying to kick your smoking habit in 2014, you might want to try MyQuit Coach. The smoking cessation app tracks how often you smoke and experience cravings hourly, daily and weekly by counting cigarettes smoked, cravings felt and your budget. MyQuit Coach is free and users say it has generally helped them. One downside is that the latest version of the app has some bugs, evidenced by recent crashes.
Created by the popular job website Indeed, JobSearch allows users to search by job title, keyword or company and location. Once results appear, you can narrow them down further through sorting by date, exact location and proximity and jobs that allow you to apply from your phone. The app is free, but unfortunately only designed for the iPhone and iPad.
For 99 cents, you can download Sleep Cycle, which uses the iPhone accelerometer to monitor your movements while you sleep.To avoid waking you up while you're in a deep sleep, which can make anyone feel irritable, Sleep Cycle tracks your rest to determine when you're most likely to enter out of a dream state. The app then wakes you up (by sounding an alarm) when it determines you are in the lightest stages of sleep so you wake up feeling more energized and less groggy. The downside is it’s missing features that could help you understand your sleeping patterns better, like audio recordings for snoring and sleep talking. Sleep Cycle is for Apple products only.
A free app for Apple and Android, uses pop-up notifications to show you one piece of art a day. In addition to an image, there’s a description or anecdote about the artwork's meaning, artist or subject, which provides a deeper dose of knowledge and depth. The free app uses push notifications to alert you of the day's piece but only pushes that one time. The downside? According to a customer review, the app occasionally displays an incorrect image.
Want to cut your alcohol intake this year or start keeping track of your expenses? This app, which costs $2.99 to download, allows you to hit an "Add drink" button with every new beverage you order. Then select the type of alcohol beverage--wine, beer, vodka, etc.--so the app can convert your consumption according to quantity and alcohol content into standard units of alcohol. It uses these calculations to alert you when you've passed moderate drinking guidelines. Though the tool is comprehensive, it creates potentially rude social habits by motivating you to use your smartphone many times in one night.
This free charity app is linked with nonprofits to prompt users to make one small change in their daily routines and donate the savings they made with the change to a cause. For example, by committing to drink water three times instead of beer three times, a user will provide three years of clean water after three $5 donations. Other tradeoffs include cooking dinner three times a week in order to provide someone with HIV medicine for three months.There are countless combinations like this to choose from. The app links to your bank account and is compatible with Apple products only.