I really wanted my first post on this blog to be something more wholesome, but I want to talk about how terribly disappointed I am in both the health app and how it was received. I was excited to see that a reproductive health was an added option. I believe that an app that helps women track their cycles is one of the most useful things we can have on our smartphones. Not only does it help track ovulation for women who want (or don’t want) to become pregnant, it may also help you establish a pattern of what is normal and what is not. One of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) one of the multiple menstrual disorders that millions of women face in the U.S. is irregular periods. PCOS which can even result in infertility can often go diagnosed because women dismiss their symptoms as normal hormonal changes.
Being able to track periods really enables women to catch any irregularities early and present them to their doctors. Being able to track your period also allows you to know when the next one is coming. This is very important since women have a love-hate relationship with their periods. We don’t like getting it, but if it’s late we panic. In addition to the benefits users get out of the app, Apple was previously criticized for “ignoring women’s health”. But in some ways, I wished they would have continued to ignore it if they were going to half-ass it so bad.
I appreciate the little definitions included in the app. As a society, we are not very open with matters of our body, especially not our reproductive health. The most natural things are considered taboo or unclean and we raise generations of women who don’t know themselves. However, the app still lacks in several other areas compared to what was already available. Personally, I use an app called My Days. I’ve used it for years and it will be the basis of my comparison since it’s the one I am most familiar with. My emphasis will be on the features that Apple does not have.
Password: To access the My Days app, you must use a password. While most people have passwords on their phones, having a password on the app adds another layer of security. How many times have the recognizable white dot has allowed us to see someone’s password over their shoulder? Do you really want your sexual history and your menstrual patterns protected only by a 4 digit number?
Days Until (Next Period and Ovulation): This feature is probably one of my favorites. Not only does it tell you how many days you have until your next period, it will tell you how late you are (if you haven’t recorded the start of your period). Granted, this feature is very user dependent. It relies on you faithfully recording all of your cycle accurately.
Note Feature: Because women are not all the same, sometimes, built-in app features may not cover everything we may be experiencing. My Days has a note feature where you can record open-ended notes about a specific day.
Photo: If you are pregnant, this can help you track your baby bump progress. You can include the picture for a specific day. So if you wanted to have a time-lapse of your growing belly, you can track all the dates accurately.
Mood: Need I say more?
Symptoms: There’s a list of over 20 different symptoms to choose from. And if that’s not enough, you can edit them to reflect something that actually applies to you.
Reminders: You can set daily reminders to take your pill or vitamins.
While the interface could be more aesthetically pleasing, I believe the features and functionality of My Days blows the Health app right out of the water. If the iOS is going to take up space on my phone, the features that it introduces should be useful enough for me to eliminate third-party apps. Until then, I’ll send their engineers back to the drawing board. Unless I am failing to use this to its full capacity. If there’s a point I’m ill-informed on, I’d love to hear it.