Mobile App Reviews

/Mobile App Reviews
Mobile App Reviews 2017-05-18T23:30:14+00:00

Simone wrote these reviews for “The Dialogue” eNewsletter of the Central East ATTC

At a boy!

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At a boy! is an Apple app designed by psychologist and behavioral economist Dan Ariely from Duke University’s Center for Behavioral Economics. It generates compliments and allows you to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to each one. Doing so will supposedly allow the app to tailor compliments more to your preferences. It also allows users to submit their own compliments for other users.

While this author would not have her spirits uplifted by compliments delivered in such an impersonal manner, there are some reviewers who report benefitting from it. In addition, if you have a personal goal to say more affirming things to others in your life, this tool might give you ideas and inspiration.

Requirements:
iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Cost:
Free

Usability:
Easy to install and use

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Anti-Stress Quotes

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This simple Apple and Kindle app by Michael Quach delivers a series of inspirational quotes. Users can select and save their favorite quotes or email them. This author reviewed the iPad version, which doesn’t have ads. One reviewer did complain about the ads on the iPhone version.

Depending on your tastes, you may find the background colors either cheerful or gaudy. The quotes themselves are by a nice variety by wise men and women from all over the world. They provide much food for thought.

While it is not a traditional stress reduction tool, some users’ stress levels will be reduced by taking the time to reflect on higher priorities in life. In addition, some of the quotes may help put their problems in perspective.

One quote by Toni Morrison used the profanity “@hit”, no other instances of inappropriate language were noted.

Requirements:
iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Kindle Fire

Cost:
Listed as “Free for a limited time”

Usability:
Easy to install and use

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Relaxing Sounds

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This Apple and Kindle app is one of many available that provide some sort of pleasant image or scenery with accompanying soothing soundtrack while users fall asleep, do yoga, meditate or engage in other stress reducing activities.

The free version of “relaxing sounds” has four images – a singing bird, heavy rain, a fireplace, and a waterfall, all with accompanying soundtrack. The app has a banner ad on the bottom. The user has the option to purchase additional sounds, as well as to pay a $0.99 fee to remove the banner.

Reviewers report that the bird soundtrack is good for entertaining pet cats and birds.

While this approach to relaxation doesn’t work for everybody, many users do seem to find it helpful.

Requirements:
iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Cost:
Free, or $0.99 to get rid of the banner ad. Additional cost to download more sounds and images.

Usability:
Easy to install and use

 

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Relax – Stress and Anxiety relief

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Learning to be aware of one’s breathing patterns and control them is an important way to develop mindfulness and reduce stress for many cultures and traditions. This app functions as a breathing coach. It has a detailed explanation of breathing technique in the information section. It provides a choice of classical, vedic, nature, “serenity” and “ambient” music. Each is very repetitive – playing the same short segment over and over again for each breath cycle.

A nice feature of this app is that it gives both visual and audio cues. Those who are more visually inclined can watch a moving graphic of a pie chart to sync their inhalations and exhalations. Others may prefer to simply close their eyes and match their breathing to the soundtrack.

Users can select how long they would like their relaxation session to be – starting at 5 minutes and going all the way up to an hour. They can also choose the length of time for each individual breath. This reviewer didn’t like how the inhalation segment was shorter than the exhalation and would have liked a way to customize this. In fairness, this may be an option in the paid version. As someone with occasionally restricted airways, this reviewer also would prefer the option of a shorter breath cycle. However, she did find the app effective at slowing down her breathing and thus feeling more relaxed.

Note: Some reviewers for the Kindle Fire version complained there was no audio. It is not known whether this has been fixed.

Requirements:
iPad
Android, via Google Play
Kindle Fire

Cost:
iPad version – Free for lite version with beginner options only, $2.99 HD version
Android version via Google Play – Free for lite version with beginner options only, $3.50 paid version
Kindle Fire – $0.99

Usability:
Easy to install and use

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Take a Break – Guided Meditations for Stress Relief

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This app from Meditation Oasis provides two “guided meditations”. Guided meditation occurs when one person (either in person or through a recording) guides another with verbal cues and instructions in order to facilitate relaxation. Most guided meditations give some instructions on how to relax the body, clear the mind, breathe more easily, let go of stress and refocus one’s awareness and attention more productively.

People new or resistant to meditation tend to find it easier to follow instructions then try to meditate on their own. Having a voice to focus on helps keep most people’s minds on track instead of wandering off or returning to the things that are stressing them.

This particular app allows users the option of having a background soundtrack of music or three different nature sounds (ocean, rain or stream) while the narrator speaks. They can customize the volume of the voice and background soundtracks separately. Users can also choose to mute the voice completely if they want an unguided meditation session.

There are two easy to accomplish lengths – a 7 minute “work break” and a 13 minute “stress relief” session. This reviewer found the woman’s gentle voice and monologue soothing and quite effective at promoting relaxation. She also liked the fact that the meditations were of a very short and manageable length, yet long enough to be effective. The instructions were clear and reassuring for those new to meditation, or who have found previous efforts to be frustrating.

Requirements:
iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Android, via Google Play
Kindle Fire

Cost:
Free

Usability:
Easy to install and use

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Balls

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While some find may find playing games on their mobile devices a good way to relax, most would probably consider it a stretch to call them legitimate tools for stress reduction. “Balls” by Dan Sayers is the kind of game app that comes up while searching for “relaxation” or “stress relief”. You use your fingers to guide colored lines around the screen. While there are allegedly music and sounds, this reviewer was not able to activate any of them. Other reviewers reported similar results. This reviewer found the app briefly diverting, but not useful for relaxation or stress relief. Of 12 reviews, only one said they found it “relaxing” the rest either found it “fun” or disappointing.

Requirements:
iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Cost:
Free

Usability:
Easy to install easy to use the visual part, couldn’t figure out the audio component

 

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5 Minute Chillout Lite – Easy Relaxation

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This Apple only app provides two simple five minute guided meditations. Guided meditation occurs when one person (either in person or through a recording) guides another with verbal cues and instructions in order to facilitate relaxation. Most guided meditations give some instructions on how to relax the body, clear the mind, breath more easily, let go of stress and refocus one’s awareness and attention more productively.

People new or resistant to meditation tend to find it easier to follow instructions then try to figure out how to do meditation on their own. Having a voice to focus on helps keep most people’s minds on track instead of wandering off or returning to the things that are stressing them.

Both options have a soothing female voice and new age type music. One is meant to help you fall asleep. The other is meant as a five minute break for those wanting a quick meditation before resuming their daily activities. This reviewer would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two – the one to help falling asleep mentioned the user being in a chair, which doesn’t seem like a safe place to have somebody deliberately fall asleep. However, the one meant to be done with the intention of staying awake afterwards seemed effective enough, guiding the listener through a systematic relaxation of different body parts. While not the best free guided meditation app out there, the waking version should provide most users with a quick and easy to use way to reduce their stress levels.

Requirements:
iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Cost:
Free

Usability:
Easy to install and use

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APA Monitor

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This app from the American Psychological Association allows users to view the whole magazine for free. This is different from many other publications’ apps that merely provide samples. Both current and past issues can be downloaded for offline reading. There is a searchable archive of past articles. These articles are written in a clear, easy to read style and contain interesting and useful information on the latest research findings and treatments. This app is recommended for anybody looking for an easy way to keep up with developments in the field.

Requirements:
iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Android, via Google Play
Kindle Fire

Cost:
Free

Usability:
Easy to install and use