Do Self Improvement Apps Really Help People?
Check the app marketplace for diet and exercise apps and you'll find a long list of options. If you've ever tried any of these yourself, you might have found what this study shows, people stop using them quickly after getting it to their phone. That kind of information isn't available on the marketplace, and you'll even find that most people give the same app used in the study top ratings. So, do apps available on the marketplace actually do anything at all?
I've looked through a lot of the options available and have only found one company that claims to have evidence its application actually provides any real health benefits at all. Noom, a weight loss app, show that 78% of Noom users sustained weight loss over 9 months in a 2016 study. This study gives the app a reputable foundation, but some have complained that the app doesn't give tailored advice like it says (and consider that Noom does not state how much weight was lost in that 9 month period). One user said he had tested in on multiple profiles, including changing his gender, and received the same advice from the app.
Consider that Samsung Health has been downloaded over 1 billion times with no evidence provided that it does anything at all, and Google Fit is the same. To be fair, these apps don't make any claims that you'll improve your health, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that a lot of people thought it would make a difference for them. So, if Noom is the exception to the rule (without taking negative reviews into account), then aren't these apps useless?
From the user side, the answer is yes (again, there seems to be exceptions), but what most people may not consider is how much a company like Google gains when you hand over your health information. Daily routines, including where and how you exercise, helps them to target ads to you in the future. So, while users may not see any changes in their health, Google may see a little bump in their share price.
So, do self improvement apps really work? Maybe that's not the best way to ask the question; do companies that create self improvement apps really care if they work? Instead of looking for an app that's most interesting or has the best health claims, maybe people should be looking for a company that only succeeds when its users succeed. This post is only the beginning of an exploration into that idea, how Quantie as a company can invest in the well-being of its users.
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