Our mobile gadgets and apps are doing a lot for us these days, helping us organize information, giving us driving directions, entertaining us, and much more. It was only a matter of time before apps emerged to help us make decisions. Are you ready for that job interview? Do you need to see the doctor? Are you prepared for the test? Common sense answers many of your questions, but the right app can help you factor the odds (favorable or not so much) and get some practical advice.
As it turns out, there are a number of decision-making solutions in the App Store. There are apps that will help you make better buying decisions, select places to eat, find entertainment venues, and more. Some of these apps are little more than an electronic flip of the coin, but some are enhanced decision-making apps that use math algorithms to help you choose a course of action. Finally, there are medical and other related apps that rely on a stored database of decision information.
Enhance your decision-making
Geek Logik was developed with the help of Garth Sundem, a mathematician who has been recently featured on the BBC and Good Morning America explaining his method of using math formulas to enhance decision-making. (You can learn more about Garth's amazing methods at geeklogik.com.) The app is a humorous, entertaining, and practical application of math to common life decisions. The developer designed the app around a series of questions that Garth has been able to quantify and transpose into mathematic formulas that weigh several sociological factors. Based on these, the app calculates a score that represents your odds of success.
The app is easy to use; simply answer a series of questions about the decision you're facing, usually by using a scale of 1-10. When you're finished, the app calculates a score that represents your chances of success. For example, the previous screenshot shows my chances of doing well on a test where the difficulty of the subject matter is 5 (out of a possible 10) and with only 2 hours of studying the material. My chance of success was 0.21—not good! Geek Logik will show you the actual formula used and explain some of Garth's reasoning behind it.
The app comes in several flavors, including a free Lite version and a deluxe version that includes all the other version's questions. I was able to interview the developer for the article and asked him what went into turning Garth's ideas onto a usable app:
"We worked with the author extensively in the development of the Geek Logik app. Not only was Garth involved in approving the look and feel, he was quite involved in testing the app's with us..."
Great Decisions uses a similar, though more simplified approach than Geek Logik in that it helps you tally pros/cons to help you reach a decision about something. It is more flexible than Geek Logik, however, as you can plug almost any set of factors into it and save those preferences. The app is based on what is known as Force-Field analysis. Basically you create your own weighted list of factors either for or against something. The app tallies up the totals to reach a decision.
Where your health is concerned, you definitely do not want to flip a coin. Medical decisions are perhaps the most important ones you'll make. Of course, a healthcare professional is the best source of medical advice, but they're not always available in emergencies, and who can afford a doctor visit every time you get the sniffles? I researched medical decision apps and found a number that give the user clear and accurate information. I mention two of them in this section.
$3.99, iPhone/iPod touch: app2.me/3850
Symptom MD puts medical diagnostic information at your fingertips. Simply select the symptoms being experienced, and the app helps you decide on a course of action. The app has several key features like a symptom image database, medical phone numbers, and maps and directions to local area medical centers.
$4.99, iPhone/iPod touch: app2.me/3883
Similar to the previous app, Family Doctor features a database of medical symptoms, solutions, and helpful information. The app uses a decision flow process of questions to help you arrive at a possible solution. It lacks the emergency phone and mapping features of the previous app, but includes over 150 symptom charts.
Wide variety of decision-making apps available
Of course, you should consult with your family, friends, or trained medical personnel for important life decisions. But that may not always be convenient, or you may want to consider a possible course of action beforehand. In those situations, these apps can help.
This article focused on general decision-making apps and those oriented towards medical decisions. I'll look at financial apps and solutions that rely on social networking (i.e., where you ask your question to a group of people) in a future article. However, a wide variety of decision-making apps are available, focusing on different topics and using different approaches. Explore the App Store, look them over carefully, and find the one the works for you.
Flip a coin!
Of course, you can just flip a coin to make simple "yes/no" decisions. If you want to take that approach, check out these apps:
- FortuneBall (free, iPhone/iPod touch: app2.me/3877) resembles and works like the old "Magic 8 Ball" toy Mattel has been selling for years. However, you can edit, delete, and add responses to this one.
- Decisions (free, iPhone/iPod touch: app2.me/3878) answers simple yes/no questions.
- i.Decide ($4.99, iPhone/iPod touch: app2.me/3879; iPad: app2.me/3880) lets you spin a roulette wheel to answer your questions. You can create decision templates, customize graphics, and more.
- Decision Helper – The quick, easy way… ($0.99, iPhone/iPod touch: app2.me/3882) lets you consult a crystal ball for advice… another "Magic 8 Ball" clone.