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Exercise Apps: Doomed for Deletion

Exercise and diet apps dominate the app market both on Androids and iPhones, but consider the thousands of health-focused apps available in comparison to the number of users who actively interact with those apps on a regular basis.

 
PRLog - Aug. 17, 2012 - SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Before you disagree completely, take a moment to think about how many apps you’ve downloaded and immediately deleted or how many apps you store on your phone “just in case” you need to use them. Don’t tell me you use the app with the measuring tools every day. (Unless, you’re a carpenter, in which case, that makes sense. Sort of. ) If you’ve downloaded a mobile health (mHealth) app focused on counting calories, have you honestly cataloged each and every calorie? Including that MilkyWay you scarfed at 3pm on a Monday because, well, it was a Monday?



Exercise and diet apps dominate the app market both on Androids and iPhones, but consider the thousands of health-focused apps available in comparison to the number of users who actively interact with those apps on a regular basis. Much like the commitment to a new gym membership, the appeal of mHealth exercise apps diminishes considerably after the excitement dies down. Ironically, the failure of many of these apps lies within the amount of work required by the user to maintain the data in order for the app to provide accurate and helpful information.

Essentially, apps that require users to input their meal plans, calories consumed or update their daily exercise routines, lead to declined usage over time. Additionally, user-provided data can be inconsistent and dishonest, meaning the information produced by the app can be wildly inaccurate and inevitably useless. Automation seems to be a key component to a successful mHealth app. By removing the room for user-input errors and providing instant results, mHealth apps such as “IMAPMYRUN” have quickly become the most popular and actively used apps.

While mHealth is growing at an impressive rate, experts hold steadfast in their opinions that we are merely gracing the tip of the mHealth iceberg. The real capabilities of the mHealth movement are yet to come. In a recent article from Scientific American, Francis Collins, the Director of National Institutes of Health stated,

Mobile devices offer remarkably attractive low-cost, real-time ways to assess disease, movement, images, behavior, social interactions, environmental toxins, metabolites and a host of other physiological variables. Many mHealth technologies could be put to highly innovative uses in biomedical research; at the same time, biomedical research could help build the foundation of evidence that so many mHealth applications currently lack.

With the endless possibilities mobility and technology bring to the health sector, it is important to keep in mind that an app, any app – no matter how great the idea or exercise tracker might be – is only successful if it is used. A mHealth app is even more successful if it is actually used properly. Before diving headfirst into the mHealth arena, take a step back to consider if continuous use and longevity or “shiny toy syndrome” are the goals of the app’s life cycle with your target audience.

This post was written by Erin Hinson. Please visit http://scienceoftheinternet.com/ to comment on the article!

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