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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Continuing to make your phone smarter


Price: Free or $$$ (Paid Subscription)
So this one can either be free, or be a paid subscription. It is a combination "get fit" program, which combines food tracking with exercise management, it even has a pedometer built in. With the paid subscription you get a "coach" program out of it which looks at what your hopes are (lose weight, eat better, etc) and gives advise and goals for each day to help you get there. There is also a "groups" feature included where you can join a "support group" of people with similar goals and lifestyles as you, and share your progress and chat.
You can tell that I'm not allowed to carry my phone at work.
 And that I was bad with choices in foods today.
No judge?
My number one favorite thing about this app is that while it does ask that you watch your caloric intake, it does not focus on that number. Instead, there is a pie chart of green, yellow, and red foods. Each food you eat (many store bought or restaurant options are already in the database with their information logged) is assigned one of these colors, and I bet you can guess what they mean: green foods are an all you can eat option; yellows are OK in moderation, but have something about them that needs to be monitored, such as sodium or fat content; red is obviously a food you really shouldn't eat much of at all. So although you have a calorie goal for the day (which it adjusts if you track exercise for the day, giving you more calories) it stresses the need for those calories to be spaced over the color groups in a certain percentage. The calorie goal itself is based off of how much weight you want to lose, how quickly, how much you weigh currently, how tall you are, and all of that awesome index stuff.
So theoretically, I am going to walk on Wednesday,
and do Yoga on Thursday.
You can create a schedule for your exercise in the app as well. So you can tell it Monday is a Yoga day, and you want to work out at 6:00. An alarm will go off at 6:00 (or earlier if you want advance notice) reminding you that it's time for yoga. If you don't log the workout, you get a mark and it will show you on your calendar that you missed it. You can also log a workout later if you forgot to tell it you were working out, or if you didn't want to hold your phone while you lifted weights or something. You literally get bonus points for unscheduled workouts.
Everything in this app that deals with calories stresses that approximation is key. They are really trying to make you focus more on that pie chart (omg pie, yum) and less on the numbers on a scale or in a food index. I love this because, if you're eating healthy and the way you're supposed to, then the majority of people will end up at their ideal weight. And by ideal I of course mean "naturally ideal" not, "I want the scale to say 120 pounds before I get married or I'll die." This app is all about helping you fix your health, not your scale.

Sleep As AnDroid

Price: $
So this one is only free for 14 days, but I think its worth the little bit of money. It tracks your sleep patterns by monitoring the movement on your mattress (omg cue the corny sex joke, please.) You can also set it to record on the microphone all night, tracking when you snore or talk. The software is able to distinguish the difference and marks places for you on a graph showing how often you did either, then you can listen to see what was going on. This is especially awesome if you have sleep apnea because you will be able to see how often you stopped breathing. It lets you see the sound graph next to the graph of what level of sleep you were in, so you can see when you're snoring more.

Obviously it isn't 100% accurate. For instance, it doesn't register me as "awake" at any point during the night, only "light sleep". I even tried picking up the  phone and carrying it with me to the bathroom, but it still only said "light sleep". I don't mind it because I can estimate which places I was awake for.


AccuWeather's Surface and Jet Stream Map
Hell, I hate proving my meteorology professor right.
Price: Free
So this isn't an app, but it is still an integral part of my smart phone life. It shows where the pressure systems are and how they are projected to move over a 72 hourish period. I know that not everyone is sensitive to barometric changes, but if you are, this  is a lifesaver. I can tell you 95% of the time whether there is a low pressure system near by. The other 5% I don't bother looking it up to confirm.
The reigning theory on Arthritis-Patient-As-Barometer is that when the surface pressure is low there is less external force holding joint tissue in place, which means you may swell more or feel more discomfort because your joints are like teenagers who just got a driver's license. Along the same vein, a dramatic change in pressure can cause discomfort because the joint tissues can't acclimate quickly enough. So even if a high pressure system is moving in and you should feel better, if its moving quickly you might feel it until the front has passed.
Obviously this website won't fix anything for you, but you can at least be prepared. Also, predicting the weather and then proving to people you were right is a neat party trick.

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