This $8 app – quite a bit more expensive than the traditional 99-cent threshold for phone apps – is "worth every penny," says Ablon. He now runs two to three miles twice a week with imaginary zombies on his heels.
Is this a peculiar way to encourage good habits? Definitely. But is it effective? The British government thinks so. As the workout app rang up a quarter-million downloads, Britain's National Health Service commissioned the team behind Zombies to design a self-improvement app for the broader public (i.e., without the undead theme). The group plans to reveal this new project in the spring.
As apps worm their way into our daily lives, plenty of smart-phone owners now find the word "phone" becoming an increasingly anachronistic term for these devices. In a TIPP poll commissioned by The Christian Science Monitor, close to half of respondents (46 percent) reported using their smart phones more than 10 times a day for actions other than making a phone call.
"Apps bring out the human part of technology," says Scott Steinberg, a consultant and professional speaker on innovation in St. Louis. Desk-bound PCs were designed for business, he says. They're tools of productivity occasionally co-opted for entertainment. Yet while iPhone and Android owe a lot to BlackBerry (the pinstriped, business-minded older brother of the smart-phone family), apps were predominantly designed for life outside the office.