These days, New Year’s resolutions are more famous for failure than for success. We mock them as pointless, because we never stick to them.
Technology won’t change resolutions’ success rate dramatically, but it might budge the needle by a few percent. Technology like these, for example:
Fitbit Aria 2 Scale
It’s hard to improve ourselves when our progress is mostly invisible. That’s the beauty of fitness trackers — and this scale ($130). The Fitbit Aria 2 Scale tracks your weight, body mass, and lean muscle every time you step onto it with bare feet, and plots your progress in Fitbit’s excellent app.
It auto-recognizes eight different people, so the whole family (or dorm suite) can all get lighter together.
Do Not Disturb While Driving
According to the latest statistics, 100% of all car accidents are caused by people. Human beings are the worst drivers.
One of our chief idiocies is attempting to handle text messages and calls while we’re driving. In iOS 11 for the iPhone, Apple has tried to do something about it.
If you turn on the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, then whenever the phone senses that you’re driving, notifications don’t show up to distract you. Your phone remains dark and silent. (Alarms and timers still ring, and you still see and hear Maps navigation instructions.) If someone texts you, they get an auto-response like, “I’m driving. I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going. If this is urgent, reply ‘urgent’ to send a notification through with your original message.”
If you’re the parent of a teenager, you can set it up so that a password is required to turn off DND While Driving.
The nice part about DND While Driving is that it’s built right into the phone and offers itself automatically — but there are plenty of similar apps available for Android phones, too, like SafeDrive or Drive Safe.
Becoming more fit is a classic New Year’s resolution. But if you’re currently a couch potato, it’s really hard to suddenly become a runner.
That’s the beauty of apps like C25K 5K Trainer (free, for iPhone or Android — and there are many, many similar apps). It assumes that you’re totally out of shape — and over six weeks, little by little, with encouragement and a little exposure to the community, it prods you into becoming a three-mile runner. The beauty of it is the gradual, measured program; you literally start by running for only 60 seconds at a time, and work up to running three miles without stopping.
Once again, you’re more likely to change your behavior if it’s constantly in your face, and if your progress is visual and unmistakable. That’s why quit-smoking apps give you a fighting chance.
In Livestrong MyQuit Coach (free for iPhone or Android), for example, you’re supposed to tap a button every time you light up. The app maps your progress, shows you how much money you’re saving as you taper off, and keeps you motivated with a parade of disgusting “what you’re doing to your body” messages. Little reward badges help, too, and so does the community of fellow strivers, whose tales of success and struggle make you feel less alone in your quest.
A better you
Any resolution can be tough to keep. But these products at least pretend to watch over you, making you just a little more likely to stick with the program.
David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes non-toxic comments in the Comments below. On the web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s email@example.com. You can sign up to get his stuff by email.