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5 Apps To Help You Keep Your New Years Resolutions (and 5 That Won’t)

I think you will spend 648 seconds reading this post

If you’re the type of person who makes major life changes based on the arbitrary position of their home planet with respect to its orbital position as it drifts pointlessly around its star in a cold, indifferent void, then you’re probably the type that repeatedly fails New Years Resolutions. Like me!

And you’re not alone: According to Time Magazine (who I am sure did Extensive Research), the 10 most commonly broken New Years Resolutions are, in order:

1. Lose Weight & Get Fit – iFitness All-In Fitness (iOS, $1.99)

So I wrote all of the following about iFitness for iPhone, then found out that it no longer exists. My Google-Fu tells me only that it must have been removed for some arcane Apple rules violation. Go figure. It’s still on my phone and it may be on yours, and I’m sure it’ll try and get its way back up to the store soon, so the stuff below still applies.

If you’re sincerely looking to get back into the gym, but you have no idea really where to start, iFitness is a great primer. The main feature of iFitness is its ridiculous glossary of exercises for every part of your body. The same information that would cost you $10-15 in a “Weight Lifting for Dummies” book, for instance, is contained right in iFitness for less than a dollar, and in a more intuitive, interactive and, probably most importantly, gym-friendly format. And no one sees you wandering around with a bright yellow “For Dummies” book announcing that you’re out of shape.

The application also boasts the ability to track and log your workouts and give you routines to use in the gym, each of them customized to a specific area you want to work out (be it Women’s Body Toning or Weight Loss). Those logs can be exported by email for analysis and tracking. Lastly, in the “More” tab, the application has a fairly impressive set of features that it’s added on since gaining popularity last year, with a food tracker, weight monitor, BMI calculator and more.

Ok, so that said, if you’re looking for an iPhone application that’s actually in the app store, people are recommending All-In Fitness. I don’t have it on my phone and no, I’m not going to spend $2 on you to duplicate an app I already own, but it looks useful and a feature-by-feature match.

2. Quit Smoking – Quitter (iOS, Free)

Probably not relevant to those like me who have the soft, pristine lungs of an infant, but many peoples’ New Years resolutions tend to include the dim hope that they’ll be able to conquer their addictions. What I think most people don’t really consider are the massive benefits of smoking, which seem to include the ability to take 15 minute breaks once an hour while at work. But if that’s not worth shaving seven years off your life (you baby), check out Quitter, by Paze Interactive. The simple application tracks your non-cigarette expenditures over time, showing you how much you would have saved had you kept up your 3-pack-a-day habit. And if you’re feeling bad for becoming a successful quitter, don’t forget there’s always booze.

3. Learn Something New? Flex Your Old KnowledgeQRANK (iOS, Free)

Let’s be frank, if you’re not in school, you’re probably not going back. In fact, you’re probably done with all the learning you’re going to do for the rest of your life. In fact, learning new things is overrated to begin with. Let’s focus instead on what you already know.

QRANK is an ultra-stylish, socially-enhanced trivia app that offers a once-a-day shot at glory, at least among your peer group. The success of QRANK lies in its competitive aspect and its rewards for knowing the answers as fast as possible (the faster you answer, the more points you get for that question). You also get the opportunity to actually choose your questions and potential point values, but you only get to answer so many questions per day, so choose wisely.

I virtually guarantee you that 2011 won’t be the year that you make any new discoveries, but it might be the year that you remember who the other guy in Wham was before your best friends. And that’s almost the same. Almost.

4. Eat Healthier & Diet – Lose It! (iOS, Free)

Lose It! joins a bevy of weight loss applications that you can use to track calories with your iPhone, but, it gets the nod over many others for being one of the first and having an amazing integrated database that won’t have you waiting for web queries to find food to log, and has the added upside of being completely usable on the iPod Touch without being connected by Wifi.

With Lose It!, you enter your weight loss goals, activity level and current weight, and the application creates a calorie-per-day target for you to hit each day. Hit that goal and you can lose up to 2 pounds per week. Sound too good to be true? I disagree. I’ve personally lost a lot of weight using the program and would recommend it to anyone looking to lose weight without gimmicks, fad diets or surgery.

Lose It! has come a long way since its first iteration, now integrating social media controls and a website to organize your progress, but those features were in the website MyFitnessPal from the beginning. If you’re on an iPhone only or want to lose weight with a friend or significant other with an Android phone, you might want to also look into the MyFitnessPal application, available for iOS and Android.

5. Get Out of Debt and Save Money – BillTracker (iOS, $1.99)/BillTracker Lite (iOS, Free)

If financial responsibility is not your strong suit (and it’s not mine), you’ll probably be surprised with how much money you have outgoing in bills every month. Rather than doing the ostrich technique of financial management, I actually am resolving to track bill payments and the like with my iPhone. My tentative recommendation is for BillTracker, by SnapTap, though it remains tentative because there are a lot of things I take issue with in this application.

On the positive side, the paid version of BillTracker allows you to input recurring bills, store bills by labels you want to give them (such as “Electric Bill”) and then store within that profile information you might want to always have with you – your account number, the company’s name and their phone number, in case there are ever any issues. You can set these to re-occur with a variety of settings, such as every month or every 2 weeks. BillTracker tracks your bills that are paid and which ones are outstanding with badges so you can always be nagg– er I mean, reminded– of your obligations.

What I dislike about the app, though, have to do with its design. There are a few unfortunately-labeled links and buttons, and while the app has good tracking of bills (in terms of when they’re going to happen), you have to kind of hack the system to input when you’re getting paid (which helps give context to your myriad bills), and tracking bills that aren’t always the same, such as your electric bill, is a bit fuzzier in the application. It would be ideal to see some of the navigation issues with the application cleared up, and for the ability to track your cash infusions (with the ability to input recurring payments or credits on specific days, such as the first and fifteenth) in a future update.

6. Spend More Time with Family? Spend Way, Way Less Time With Your FamilyAngry Birds / Angry Birds Seasons (iOS, Android, $0.99)

I’m overriding this one based on personal experience. I resolved to spend more time with my family last year and paid dearly for it. Now, I know better. This year, I’m planning to isolate myself in my room and play games on my phone until they send rescue parties.

Nearly any game could have gone into this slot, but credit was given to Angry Birds and its Seasons iteration for a couple of reasons. For one, it is clearly the game of the year in terms of the iPhone sales, design and cultural impact. But more importantly, over the Christmas holiday, I got my mom and uncle hooked on the game, which proves that it crosses age divides and truly wrecks families. So even if you’ve completed Angry Birds over the last year, if your mom, dad or significant other is getting on your nerves, gift Angry Birds to them, and give yourself the gift of less family interaction for only a dollar.

7. Travel to New Places? Defend The World Around You From Attacking TIE FightersStar Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner (iOS, $4.99)

What use is it flying to new locales if the Empire is just going to attack you there, too? Why save Thailand when Cleveland is under assault? I’m talking about THQ’s Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner, which uses the world around you as its backdrop for defeating an incoming Empire invasion.

Look, I can be more jaded than anyone, but this is really cool stuff. Sitting in an office chair, shooting enemies as you rotate around in a full, 360° view is just cool, and needs to be played to be experienced. This will probably be (one of) the first in a long line of alternate reality games utilizing the iPhone’s built-in camera capabilities to enhance the world around you, making it your playground.

8. Be Less Stressed – Mindful Meditation (iOS, $1.99)

I don’t have a big hippie streak, but it does crop up from time to time in the form of saying things like “Man, I want to learn how to meditate”. For a little while, I did get into it on my own, but I didn’t really get a very good handle on it until I started using Mindful Meditation. Mindful Meditation uses a series of excellent guided meditations to work you into a calm state.

Back when I was hoofing it around Los Angeles and taking the bus to work and back, having the app was really great for calming me down after work and getting me ready to chill out and be home. Even if you don’t want to learn to meditate, the guided relaxation exercises are great if you want to learn how to let go. And if this is your New Years Resolution, chances are you do.

9. Volunteer? Get a Job, HippieCareerbuilder.com (iOS, Free)

Volunteerism seems like a relic of the Clinton era, when we all had so much money we were looking to give our time away for free. Now you’re lucky if your boss doesn’t ask you to work for free a couple of days to help keep the lights on. Forget that – the children can learn to read on their own, and the homeless can ladle their own soup, am I right?

I chose CareerBuilder.com’s web app for a few reasons – for one it’s pretty well designed while remaining branded with their obnoxious orange (a color they can keep, by the way), but it’s going to be a bit better job hunting resource than, say, a Craigslist App (for job hunting) because of your ability to store resumes on the Careerbuilder servers. Without a built-in file-handling scheme, the iPhone is fairly impotent when it comes to embedding a resume in a job-hunting cover letter without some insane workarounds. So for job hunting on the go, something like CareerBuilder’s going to be your best bet.

10. Drink Less? Drink More For LessHappy Hours (iOS, Free)

Look let’s be honest with each other: A real alcoholic doesn’t resolve to never drink again on the first of January. A 17-year old who took her first body shot the night before does. Most people who make this resolution make it on New Year’s Day when they’re hung over, then by the next weekend they’re back out at the bars. It’s like betting a gambling addict that they’ll never gamble again.

So why not make a smarter resolution? Instead of stopping cold turkey, why not stop spending so much on your habit? Enter Happy Hours by GoTime, an application that geolocates you and pushes bars serving drink specials (and non-drink specials, as well) to you by proximity. And assuming you were serious about the resolution, Happy Hours can help push you further down the inevitable path you were on anyway, but with enough money to pay for the therapy to repair the mental scars you’re about to inflict on all who love you.

Got any other apps that deserve some consideration? Toss ’em in with your comments.

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  1. November 5th, 2012 at 17:46 | #1

    Again, thanks for the information. I’ll pass it on.

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