by Sarah Gotschall
Every Friday at 4:30, I wander into my coworker’s office for what we call “New App Friday.” For reasons lost to posterity, on April 14, 2017, I set up a recurring meeting in Outlook and strolled into Shaun Esposito’s office to announce that we would now discuss new apps on Friday at 4:30. Optimistically, I set up the meeting to recur for all time (no end date)! I can’t remember his initial response, but we are still meeting seven months later, so he must have been reasonably amenable (full disclosure – he was on sabbatical all summer…).
In the last paragraph, I wrote that the reasons for the genesis of New App Friday were lost to posterity…but typing just now I had a flash of memory (this is really true)! After investigating the date I first installed an app, I am pretty sure I went to Shaun’s office on April 14 to share my joy over an exciting app I had installed the previous week (more on this later). Anyway, that is pretty much the purpose of our meetings – to share our experiences with new apps. Our general meeting format is to poke around on Google Play to find new apps we might like, install them, try them out, and critique them. We also generally discuss which apps we are currently using, check our Acorns app account balances, complain about wanting new phones (without wanting to pay for them), and discuss our Samsung Galaxy phone features and shortcomings.
New App Successes
The above mentioned new app that gave birth to New App Friday is the Acorns “automatically invest spare change” app. You link the app to your debit or credit card and each time you buy something it rounds the amount up to the nearest dollar and invests your change in…well, something or other (sometimes I don’t like to get bogged down in details). You can also set the app to invest a certain additional amount each week. Shaun installed the app too and now we check our balances each week. Last Friday my account balance was $589.66, and his was about half that. We both invest $5.00 a week extra but I use my debit card constantly while he still frequently uses squirrel pelts. According to the app, if I continue investing at my current rate, I will have $105,327.00 when I am 88! In forty years…
It is hard to believe that one would need a weekly app meeting to finally get around to installing Snapchat, but adults are busy, right? Once I installed it, I couldn’t figure out how to take funny pictures. Taking a picture was easy enough, but I couldn’t find the photo editing features to make it look funny. It took me way too long to realize that Snapchat has to first recognize a face before you take the picture for photographic hilarity to ensue.
The installation of Daylio, the “mood tracker and micro diary” app, was the result of an impromptu New App Non-Friday meeting at AALL. On the last day of the conference, I woke up in an inexplicably dark mood, feeling like a pedestrian-bus-collision victim, so when I ran into Shaun who was also looking worse for wear, we collapsed into chairs to lament our downtroddenness. Out of our anguish arose the idea to install a mood tracking app to….well, I am not sure what. Anyway, Daylio automatically pops up to inquire about your mood at preset intervals. You select your mood (the default choices are rad, good, meh, bad, and awful) and the activity you are currently engaged in (you create the activity categories). Then you can see how your mood changes over time and how your different activities affect your mood. Shockingly, I discovered that lying in bed reading the news on my phone puts me in a terrible mood! Who knew that reading the news these days depressed people, amirite?! You can also view your mood statistics for the day, week, month, or year. Apparently I was in a terrible mood last week during the several days I was in bed with gastrointestinal distress. Who knew!?
A big (not-technically-an-app) success was creating “Add to Home Screen” shortcut links to news and periodicals from our library catalog. When I click one of my shortcuts, I am prompted to sign in through the University’s remote access system. I started reading publications that I haven’t read for years such as Psychology Today and The Economist and ones I never actually read like Foreign Policy and Wired.
New App Failures
My new app failures are legion and largely forgotten because I have to uninstall apps all the time to make room for new apps due to limited space on my phone. One type of app that I keep installing and then deleting for lack of use are habit/productivity apps and photo editing apps. They seem cool and useful but I never actually use them. I have installed various list making apps but they never seem more useful than Evernote and Google Keep.
There are really too many new app successes for one blog post so maybe there will be a New App Friday follow up post in the future. I didn’t even get to our Geocaching app adventure (full disclosure – we couldn’t find the cache) and our failed Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset experience. Do you use any apps that are of particular note? If so, please share in the comments.