Smart phones give us the ability to carry around information about personal health and wellness wherever we go. Mobile applications designed for the iPhone, Google Android (including Motorola's new Droid device) and BlackBerry are great for diet information, working out and accessing health records.
The greatest variety of health and wellness apps is found within the iTunes App Store, which features over 100,000 apps. With the Android Market growing to approximately 12,000 apps, Google’s mobile platform Android is hoping to eventually be a serious contender to Apple’s iPhone. Although BlackBerry is limited in its app selection, it carries a few apps designed to make you feel better about yourself.
Let's compare the variety of health and fitness apps for the iPhone, Android devices and the BlackBerry.
Track Your Diet on the Go
There is a good mix of food apps available in the health sections for all three of these major mobile platforms. The iPhone and Android have some of the better selections, though, with apps dedicated to vegetarians and other special interest groups. Additional calorie counters are also in abundance, with Fast Food Calorie Counter as a prominent app for iPhone and Android users.
Priced at $2.99 for both the iTunes App Store and the Android Market, Fast Food Calorie Counter gives you logos from major chain restaurants and provides details on their menu’s nutritional value. This is a great type of app to have handy on any mobile phone, as it provides an accessible resource for you to track your diet.
Personal access to health records
Shooting for the ultimate in personal health apps, there are many records-keeping tools available on all three major mobile platforms. iPhone users have a plethora of apps to choose from, with HealthSync being among the more notable options. For $2.99, you can track multiple family members' health, including symptoms, doctors’ contact information and medications.
A comparable app for Android device users is My Mobile Med Box from mHealth. A tad pricier at $5.95, this app from the Android Market provides a mobile journal solution for immunizations, allergies and medications. Slightly less robust than HealthSync and similar iPhone apps, Android device users may be somewhat disappointed with the My Mobile Med Box app. BlackBerry users can find a similar app with the free My Personal Health Record.
Health in the cloud
Mobile users can also turn to either their iPhone or their Android device for Google Health apps. After years of discussion and consideration, Google released a Health app for individuals to track their medical records. With mobile apps that access your Google Health account, those records are made more readily available in a secure fashion. The BlackBerry has no such app.
For iPhone users, the free Health Cloud app will grant you access to your Google Health records. Android users can check out the Anvita Mobile Viewer to access their Google Health account on supported devices, also for free. Neither Health Cloud or Anvita Mobile Viewer have gained significant traction for their mobile applications.
As the Android platform is from Google, a native app is expected for Google Health, created specifically for Android devices. This way, the Android platform may have a long-term advantage, having more capacity for a top-down approach to integrating other Google-related apps.
Workout apps are rather popular for mobile users, who find that on-the-go access provides them a great way to stay abreast of their workout goals and progress. While there is no dominating developer with a workout app across the major platforms being reviewed, the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices each have an app worth checking out.
iPhone users can try iFitness, which features workout videos, custom exercises and tracking on charts to follow your routine’s improvement. In the Android Market, you would do well to check out the GymBook app, which offers a simple (yet effective) tracking tool for charting your workouts. BlackBerry users may find Total Fitness to be of interest, with tracking and charts available as well.
Relax with Andrew Johnson
Relax with Andrew Johnson. Sounds easy enough. This app, available for the iPhone and Android devices, aims to help you relax and fall asleep. Displaying a hypnotizing series of visualizations, the app lulls you into dreamland. Settings allow you to have a short or long induction, repeat, or set a wake-up time.
Unlike many other apps found on both the iTunes App Store and the Android Market, Relax with Andrew Johnson has the same price of $2.99 on both platforms. The iPhone, however, has a series of similar apps to choose from, all hailing from developer Michael Schneider. It appears as though the decision to run only one of several apps is a way to test the waters of the Android Market. BlackBerry has no such apps from this developer.
Many more miles to go
Personal health apps do not seem to receive as much attention from either the developer or the consumer market when compared to entertainment apps. This disparity is seen in the vast difference between the number of health and fitness apps found in the iTunes App Store and those found in the Android Market or BlackBerry AppWorld.
This may be a culmination of lower consumer demand and the higher potential for significant return on investment when compared to entertainment and gaming applications. Nevertheless, mobile health apps will continue to grow in necessity, especially as they increase their ability to automate more features and appeal to a wider demographic.