app caveats

There are things to be aware of when working with apps.

  • Apps can be mercurial.  Anyone who’s read the reviews and comments about an app will often see a wide range of opinion.  Some love it, some can’t seem to get it to work.  An app may work great on your brand-new Apple iPhone but not on your friend’s brand-new Galaxy.  When you consider different platforms, phones, phone companies, and phone updates, you start to get the picture.  That’s why it’s often better to try a free version first in addition to looking at reviews and comments.
  • Apps are continually being upgraded by the developers.  What worked great in version 1.5 may be a mess in version 1.6.  It’s best to try free versions first and back up your data as best as you can, often on the app’s website.
  • Platforms like Apple’s iOS occasionally undergo major reworks as in the recent iOS 7 launch.  This will often send developers scrambling to adapt their time-tested app to comply with new requirements and take advantage of new functionality.  Unfortunately, some of these adaptations are less than perfect.  Given time, most developers will get it right the second or third update.  If not, try another app.
  • Don’t get over concerned if you think you are underutilizing your new app.  Not every feature may work as well as you would like it to.  Figure out exactly what you want to monitor or use and find an app that does that well.  The rest is icing on the cake.
  • It’s doubtful your app has been strongly vetted by board certified doctors.  Don’t look at the results as gospel.  Some of the best use of many apps is to monitor trends.  Unless you compare your sleep app with professional lab monitoring you’ll never really be sure if you had 3 hours or 20 minutes of REM sleep.  What you can monitor are broad trends.  You can start easily monitoring what time you go to bed and what time you wake up, how many hours you’re trying to sleep, your pulse rate just after you get up, etc.  That alone may move you to start changing your sleep patterns to a more helpful level.  Also compare your results to known results.  For instance, you can use your heart pulse monitor right after the doctor takes your pulse or if you have a blood pressure cup at home.  This can give you a greater sense of confidence in your other measurements.

In general approach your apps realistically and with a grain of salt.

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