No matter what New Year's Resolution(s) top your list this year-you guessed it-there's an app for it. In fact, mobile industry analytics company Flurry reports that at least 1.2 billion apps were downloaded worldwide last week alone, between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Even if your goals don't involve smoking, weight, work or finances, there are apps that allow users to type in their own custom goals and monitor them. The following choices are geared toward smart phones (iPhone or Android,) but some are also available as computer downloads.
Had it with smoking? Livestrong's "MyQuit Coach" is a popular app that allows the user to chart a personalized course for quitting, whether it's going cold turkey or easing into a smoke-free life. The app tracks daily consumption and usage history. It will also give you alerts and reminders when you need them most-stressful times of day, reasons for quitting, etc. There is also a social support network, and users can post progress reports to Facebook or Twitter. Proceeds from the app's 99 cent charge on the website go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, but the app is free for iPhone.
For a more "in your face" approach try "Quitter" or "Ciggie," both free. Enter the average number of cigarettes smoked per day and your quit date, and the apps will keep running totals of how long since your last cigarette, how much money you're saving and how many days smoking has trimmed from your life expectancy.
If drinking, chemical dependency or eating disorders are your concern, a free app called "OneRecovery on the Go" is a mobile meeting locator for the top 12-step programs. Covering the United States, the app will search from your location, city or zip code, and the user can specify the type of meeting wanted (men only, women only, closed, speaker, etc.) The Alcoholics Anonymous "12 Step Companion" offered at $2.99 includes the "Big Book" reader, Al-Anon contacts and a sobriety calculator to help those in recovery stay on track.
Weight loss tools are abundant online. Two highly rated apps will track calories in and calories expended, which is what it's all about. "Lose It" and "My Fitness Pal" have similar features. The user plugs in height, weight and goals, and the program calculates a daily calorie recommendation. The programs begin by entering every food item eaten-meals and snacks--every day as well as any exercise and time completed.
Their databases do the rest. "My Fitness Pal" boasts over 1.3 million food items for entry, and the phone app automatically syncs with your online account. "Lose It" says that 96 percent of those who use their program for four weeks lose weight. Both apps are free.
An interesting app for anyone who eats is "Go Meals." This free app locates restaurants in 175,000 locations, lists 20,000 menu items with nutritional information and produces maps to get you to your choices. Eating at home? The "Go Meals" database includes 40,000 everyday foods with nutrition information and will save the meals that you cook regularly in your own file. As a diet aid, the user can enter his or her "Daily Plate" of calories, carbs, protein, fat, etc.
There are hundreds of fitness and exercise apps available, too. If you prefer going to a gym, check out "iPersonalTrainer" or "Fitness Free." Those who want a workout at home can try "Nike Training Club" with a choice of 85 workouts and celebrity tips. If yoga is more to your liking, one of the highest rated apps is "All-in Yoga" with 300 poses and customizable classes.
One of the most highly rated apps for financial fitness is Intuit's "Mint." Using your online banking information, this free app monitors bills, purchases, budgets and balances. Users can track individual bank accounts, credit cards and investment accounts. It sends out alerts for items over budget and checks clearing and has a safety lock device if the phone is lost or stolen.
A financial app that might come in handy for frequent travelers or at tax time is Lemon's "Receipts Refreshed." With the phone's camera, users photograph receipts and upload them to their Lemon.com account. The database digitizes, sorts and categorizes them for reports or spreadsheets. The app is free.
New this year is an app called "Resolutions 2012." This general purpose minder allows users to enter up to three resolutions (custom or from a list) and five habits associated with the goals. Categories include eating, exercise, mental wellbeing, economic wellbeing and being a better person. So if your resolutions span across several categories, this is the app to help you monitor progress in all of them at the same time.
Finally, the "Boom Boom!" app is a bit off-beat, but if your resolution involves random acts of kindness and "guerrilla goodness" this is for you. Users who are witness to or recipients of random acts of kindness can upload their experiences to streams, sharing the love and ideas with everyone else. It's a feel-good site about good coming back. As their website says, "The more good we see, the more there will be."
There, truly, is an app for everything and for everyone. The ones listed are to assist users with completing tasks, reaching goals and improving their lives. Before embarking on programs involving health and exercise, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor. The year is young. Let the downloads begin.
Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.