There are some products and services that are a joy to experience. For example, I actively enjoy using my iPhone and look forward to my apps having updates for me to install because the apps are enjoyable to use and the update process fills me with anticipation. (I know how geeky I sound, but I'm sure of you will be the same... just be honest about it!)
This isn't something we should take for granted. I can remember years ago when I was looking after the IT system for a small business and I had to install updates for Microsoft Windows XP across a dozen machines. That wasn't fun and I certainly didn't anticipate it with fondness.
In a world where products are beautifully designed and as enjoyable to use as, say, Ommwriter or Things (two of my favourites) there are bound to be a few that are less successful, yet still very useful.
Recently I've started tracking what I eat to lose a little weight but also to build up a profile of my diet data to see if anything interesting comes out. (Mother touched on this obsession with personal data in their recent SFTW newsletter).
So I downloaded MyFitnessPal. And it's great - that's why it's got five stars.
But I'm a bit of a perfectionist so I've got a few ideas on how I think they can make it a little better.
- (1) Separate my exercise to motivate me more -
When I exercise I input how many calories I've burned and it deducts those from my daily totals. But, they don't show up on my Weekly Totals. I work hard running but I don't even get the reward of seeing it on my main screen, I only get to see it on the daily screen.
What If... The calories I've burned off were shown below the zero to show and celebrate my efforts instead of just accruing calories. That way I get to pat myself on the back when I see all the calories I've burned off that week.
- (2) Utilise open APIs -
When I run I use my Garmin. Lots of people use their Nike+ or their miCoach. I note down the calories burned and input them manually into MyFitnessPal. Also, my Garmin has a health section where I update my weight and I have to repeat this action too.
What If... MyFitnessPal exploited open APIs and automatically fed this data into the app for me. (As my Garmin tracks my route it could spit out all manner of interesting data: "Well done - your run around Victoria Park means you burned off your whole breakfast.")
- (3) Make meals inspiring -
There is a section in the app for meals. I haven't used it yet, partly because I don't really know how to and because it seems a little daunting. But there's an insight here that when you're tracking your calories you don't think about what you want to eat, you think about what you can eat. And thus you don't think of ingredients from a quality and taste point of you, it's very much from a quantity and calories point of view.
What If... MyFitnessPal created a content partnership with a major mult. They could then see the kinds of foods I'm entering into it and push recipe suggests to me, with offers. Your Heston's and Delia's of this world could push out a range of meals under 500 calories, or meals that use my regular ingredients.
- (4) Use time and place more -
So there we are and this is now. I have 216 calories left to use if I want to today. But I'm not really tempted to. The app knows what time it is, can see where I am and knows when I've exercised so why doesn't it use that data intelligently?
What If... The same content partnership from above was used to entice me and motivate me in equal measure. The app could easily push me a message telling me where my local store is and push a relevant offer. "Nearly time for bed Mark. Use this voucher at your local Tesco (123 metres away on Smith Street) to celebrate your 1kg loss this week on any of our Be Good To Yourself range and get yourself something good for breakfast. Well done!"
What If... just What if...