What's in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out? This can be an actual physical belonging, or something you're mentally or emotionally hanging on to. Why are you keeping it, and why do you need to get rid of it?
What I coincidentally had on my mind recently was the clutter of diabetes apps I've downloaded over the past few years and never really used more than a few times, if even that.
I should note that my Android smartphone isn't in its prime of life anymore, and sadly it seems it may be on the verge of smartphone dementia.
The battery is one of those that can't be simply removed and replaced, so you have to buy a whole new phone. I'm trying to prolong as far as possible until my contract runs out in September. And in the meantime, I'm on a mission to clean up the many unused apps that have taken up residence there.
When I got serious about this, I was amazed to see how many of those were diabetes apps just sitting there taking up space. One thought was to download a so-called "smart app manager" to help analyze just how much I use specific apps and then determine which ones might be worth keeping. But in the end, that effort didn't even seem worthwhile, so I just decided to start deleting.
When I reflected on how this clean-up effort was a perfect fit for today's #DBlogWeek prompt, I stopped removing them and instead decided to try to analyze just how much I didn't use these mobile D-apps. And for the sake of conducting research on this without my Droid Mini crashing, I transferred all of those apps over to the Android Moto G phone that I use as an uploader for my Nightscout/CGM in the Cloud setup.
Honestly, I don't recall exactly how many diabetes apps were on my regular phone before that first wave of cleanup. But after the Droid transfer that involved downloading these again, I counted 21 diabetes apps. Seriously, twenty-one... mobile apps that I'd have to guess were mostly used once or twice, or maybe over the course of a few days of trial-testing before deciding it wasn't worth messing with them anymore.
Here are my notes on the apps I've downloaded and used at some point, and what each particular app's fate may be:
- Nightscout: actively used it, at least until the latest Dexcom SHARE Receiver with Bluetooth came out, requiring an updated Nightscout app version that is not yet released.
- xDrip: My newest and latest CGM in the Cloud tool (pictured), allowing me to share my real-time data from my Dexcom SHARE Receiver with my Android phones. I've been using this every day for the past 10 days, pretty much the entire time. So at least for now, it's a keeper.
- Medtronic Connect: Somewhat surprisingly, this one is worth saving, IMHO, since it's a handy tool to use in storing my pump settings and supply details all in one spot. You can also reorder supplies though this app, and although I haven't used that feature yet, it seems like a good option and worth keeping. (But no, I won't be keeping Medtronic's Lenny the Lion carb-counting game app that I'd just been curious about but never used).
- MySugr: I've written before about this fun gamifcation diabetes app for logging blood sugars, and not only do I still enjoy using it sometimes but I totally want to keep supporting my friend Scott Johnson and other D-peeps involved with the great startup MySugr!
- Fooducate: This is a new find for me and I've been using it to check out the carb counts (plus some other yummy nutrional 411) about whatever is going into my mouth. I like how I can also leave notes in there about individual food items, to refer back to later.
- Fitbit: No, I'm not one of those in the D-Community currently doing a Fitbit Challenge. But I kind of want to be. And even though I haven't taken the necessary steps to get moving more each day (pun!), it's on my To Do List for the near future... so, you get to stay on my Droid, Fitbit!
Bye, Bye Apps:
- MyFitnessPal: Despite the name, I don't use this for fitness. It's all about the calorie (and carb) counting info for me, looking up whatever I'm eating or drinking to see what my insulin dosing requirements will be. Lately, I've just been turning to Google and typing in "carbs" after the food name, and that's been a whole lot easier for me than pulling up this app. Plus, with the new Fooducate app mentioned above, there's no need to double up.
- Dexcom: Love the CGM, but have no use for the mobile app since it basically just offers a window into support resources, FAQs, and training videos I generally don't need. Since I go through Edgepark for my CGM supplies, there's also no need to take advantage of the supply reorder feature.
- Strava: Downloaded this GPS tracking app because a friend recommended it a couple months ago when I was first starting to get into that mindset of "I need to exercise more." But after I signed up and saw that it only offered running and cycling components at the core, and not "walking the dog around the block" or "dancing in the living room while waiting for my coffee to brew" types of activity... Well, I decided it wasn't for me (especially with Fitbit already waiting for my attention) even though you can use Strava for not-so-intense activities.
- DiaSend, Glooko, Accu-Chek 360: You know, I don't use the Accu-Chek meters and was just curious about the app. And I only use my pump-connected Bayer Contour Link meter, so there's no need to have these other data-sharing programs on my smartphone or desktop for that matter. But I know for a lot of people, Glooko and DiaSend are really great tools for getting their data where they want it.
- iGlucose (the iHealth app for the BG5 Bluetooth meter): I tried this app briefly for a week or two when reviewing the product, and that's the last time it got any use. Adios, app.
- OnTrack by Medivo and Glucose Buddy: I'm sure these are popular glucose and D-info tracking tools for some, but on my phone I'm not sure they were even used once. Jut not that into you, sorry.
- HelpAround: This is one that I used for awhile, and found it very helpful in connecting with a few other people in the D-Community who happen to be located near me. But haven't looked at it in a number of months, so it's time to toss this one aside for the betterment of smartphone data space, I decided.
- BlueLoop: D-Mom Pam Henry created this great app... with kids with diabetes in mind. I originally heard about this at a conference a few years back and liked the idea, so I downloaded it. But in playing around with it, found that you had to basically trick it if you were an adult -- entering a parent and kid was a requirement, so this app fell of my radar.
- Big Blue Test 2014 and World Diabetes Day apps: Great causes, ones I'll continue supporting 100%. Just don't need the apps on my phone all year, when they only apply to a small chunk of the calendar.
- Diabetes Forecast and Diabetes Daily Forums: both were on my iPad originally, but I wanted to have access to read them at a doctor's appointment once, so I uploaded them for that single day's reading... and never looked at them again. Aufweidersehen to them.
As I was doing this phone cleanup, I also discovered there were some of the same software programs on my laptop and desktop computers, and so I went through those and pretty much got rid of 99% of them. From DiaSend to Tandem t:connect (not currently a t:slim pumper) to proprietary OneTouch software for those meters (that I no longer use). Only one I did keep: My Dexcom Studio software for uploading my CGM data.
All of these are free apps. There's no way I'm going to pay money for a mobile app that I probably won't use -- and the odds appear to be in my favor of my not using them regularly, based on the above.
A study published recently in the May 7 edition of Preventing Chronic Disease journal says that apps costing a few dollars may actually prove more helpful to people with diabetes than the free ones, but that just makes me laugh. Of the 110 D-related Apple apps used in the study, most of them cost $5.99 or less but some cost as much as $29.
Um, no way.
Honestly, the problem is partly just human nature that we get bored easily, and also don't enjoy being super-diligent about tracking something that's not a lot of fun to do (testing your own blood) and never seems to bring any real sense of accomplishment (diabetes management).
But what that study highlighted, as have other analyses, is that most of the apps out there for diabetes are just lacking in the real-world value they bring to users. Over half of the diabetes apps of the diabetes appos on offer now have only one function, as a glucose logbook. Only 44% of are integrated with other applications like email, calendar, or maps, and less than 17% of those with customizable features had other tools like printer-friendliness, audio and visual, or social media and texting compatability.
In other words: They just create silos of data without bringing it all together.
I really feel like the people at Apple who recently picked the Top 13 Diabetes Apps probably don't live with type 1 diabetes. Just because a company raised a lot of money on Kickstarter or even had a recent IPO doesn't mean the app is a game-changer. So far none really come close to that lofty goal.
That is why we continue to be excited about what open-data group Tidepool is working on with its Blip program, which will tie in with the organization's work on a universal device uploader allowing us to combine these many disparate data streams. That's rumored to be available this summer, and after taking a look at my own graveyard of unused apps and programs, it's something I hope gets into our hands sooner rather than later.
If for no other reason than it helps me keep my mobile devices more clean and orderly!