A dollar ninety-nine isn't much in the grand scheme of things. I used to pay roughly $3.50 a day in my early twenties for a pack of smokes. During my heyday as a foolish, young, self-destructive teen, I'd throw away at least a buck fifty for a 40oz (or a "fo'ty," as us Generation-Nexters liked to call them) of Mickey's or (puke) Magnum. I just put $20 in the tank today at $3.60 a gallon so I can make it to Horsetail Falls for a hike this weekend. And, goodness knows, I would have spent at least as much on the dollar menu at McDonald's just a few weeks ago, and we're not talking side salad. So what's a dollar ninety-nine for an app?
I'll tell you what: it should at least work better than the free ones. It should work at least as well as the ninety-nine cent apps, and, damnit, it shouldn't crash every single damn time I use it.
I have recently taken up running, if you haven't been following my blog, and have been trying to slowly build up intervals from two-minutes running/three minutes walking. I was supposed to move up to three minutes of running two weeks ago, but shinsplints and other factors (35 lbs overweight, fear, excuses?) have prevented me from doing so. So, I looked up interval training apps and I found the "Couch to 5k" program started by Active.com. Seemed reasonable. Their $1.99 app would let me play music while interrupting at the right times to tell me I needed to jog or walk. The intervals were pre-set to follow this specific program created by these people. "Great!" I thought, "I'll let this program decide for me when to increase my running time because I really have no idea what I'm doing!"
So how well does this app work, you might be asking. It starts out great! Whatever "trainer" you choose gets you warmed up with a five minute walk and then tells you, "Let's jog," when it's time to jog. After the interval, and before you know it, the trainer has you "walk briskly." You might even think, "Wow! I really did a whole such-and-such-time of running just now and it flew by!" And then, at least halfway through this warm, fuzzy workout when you're really starting to like Clarissa or whatever the he'll they name their voice characters, you realize you've been walking longer than you expected. You look down at your phone only to realize your app has crashed and nothing from your workout has been saved.
Thinking it a fluke, you might try it again a few days later after you've emailed their support and they've told you they haven't come across this bug before. Then it happens again. Two out of two times, your two-dollar app has failed you. You finish your workout without a timer and grit your teeth through the pain, determined to not let that flaky bitch, Clarissa who keeps quitting on you, to get the best of you. You don't need her anyway.
After this happened to me, I shot their support another email letting them know that two out of two crashes equals negative feedback and bought myself a $.99 interval timer I had previously missed in my app store search. I tested it to make sure it worked. It performed perfectly, which makes it 500 times better than Active.com's app and half as cheap. Another thing I found out on my way back tonight, abandoned and trainer-less from the C25k app, I can do more than two minutes. I can even go faster than I was going waiting for Clarissa to tell me what to do. So it wasn't a total loss after all. Next week, I may just be running for three minutes at a time. Take that, C25k.
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