Sometimes, the wait is worth it. Back in November, Windows 8 launched a contest for developers to create the best social good app out there. Wait, do people even use Microsoft phones? The contest is part of a strategy to put Windows ahead of Apple and Android as a destination for social good. However, the winning entries reveal that more than anything, we all have health on the brain — and that we want personalized, solutions to solving our individual needs. Can this contest tell us how technology companies — specifically Windows apps — prioritize health and fitness? Are the brand-new apps going to be part of a greater connection between big tech brands and healthy living?
What’s the Deal?
From November to March, Windows challenged tech doyennes and coding gurus to build an app that changes the world for the better — be that through promoting clean water, advocating literacy, ending hunger, aiding the environment, or simply making it easier to live a healthy life. After creating, publishing, and registering apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone, any developers could enter the running for the title of “Windows 8 Apps for Social Good Contest” winner. Out of the 21 contenders, the judges voted on three winning ideas that focused on the pursuit of personal health.
- Windows 8 Award: Eatfindr
Finding healthy food in a strange city is tough, but it can be close to impossible for those with complicated allergies. Cameron Preston, Ludo Antonov, and Hayder Casey were inspired by their own struggles to find restaurants where their friends with serious food allergies could enjoy the experience, too. The app filters nearby healthy restaurants by distance, novelty, popularity, but most importantly, allergy or dietary restriction. Users can add allergy filters (like gluten, nuts, corn, soy, etc.), peruse the menu, find directions, and write reviews all in one place. Right now the app only features major cities (most of them on the West Coast), but the developers hope that soon it will expand through user participation and feedback.
- Windows Phone 8 Award: Health Center
In the Windows Phone category, Health Center took home the gold for good reason. Cross-comparing name-brand and generic drugs and hunting for discounts is easy on a computer, but trying to sort out prescription medications on-the-go is a serious pain in the neck. With Health Center, users can find cheaper meds straight from their phone. Considering how many people take prescription drugs (and how expensive many are), this app has some serious potential for social good.
- People’s Choice Award: YumvY
Even though we know it’s healthier than eating out or getting delivery, whipping up a homemade dinner feels more like a chore than a treat. YumvY is setting out to change that stereotype with step-by-step recipe guides to make home cooking easier, faster, and way more fun. The detailed cooking instructions have helpful, important features that many food apps and recipe blogs overlook. Like: If there are two (or more) cooks in the kitchen, what’s a good division of labor? Which steps can happen at the same time, and which need to go in order? Plus the app features timers and reminders to make sure nobody burns the bacon! Sari Louis, the developer, hopes that YumvY app will make more people want to cook healthy, nutritious meals at home.
Why it Matters
Although the iconic 4-box logo still reminds many people of Bill Gates and The Oregon Trail, Windows is making a big push to stay relevant in the 21st century. Their latest operating system, Windows 8, launched just last fall, making it one of the newest platforms around. And while the software giant is still finding its niche in the tech market, it’s not neglecting one of the biggest things in tech since smart phones themselves — apps. Cameron Preston from Eatfindr explained that Microsoft has strict requirements for apps so the entire device (be it a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone) has the same overall asethetic and "clean" layout.
Despite the broad category of “Social Good,” all of the successful entrants chose to zero in on micro, not macro human issues. With one winning app focusing on eating out with allergies, another simplifying the process of procuring and taking prescription medications, and the last making healthy eating at home a breeze, it’s obvious that developers and software execs alike have wellness on the brain. Preston said it makes sense that the winning apps were health-related — the best ideas come from real-life struggles. "People see a way to create an app for solving personal problems, and that means that more people are going to be able to download it and solve the same problems," he said. Does this mean that the future of tech is…health and fitness?