I don't usually do this, but occasionally I investigate the productivity market. I like to see what's out there and see what others do to provide tools and means of improving personal productivity. The developers of MyGoalBook, an iOS app developed to help facilitate a regimen of goal achievement, approached me earlier this month to overview their software and give feedback on the app. I suspect that this may happen again so for consistency I will base my reviews on a 4 point system and give my final grade based on a weighted average.
MyGoalBook is an app on the ever expanding iOS market founded on the intentions of helping normal people attain a greater proficiency for managing tasks and achieving small goals (and I suspect large ones as well). The software is guided by the principal of the Laws of Attraction, a philosophy developed in the early 20th century associated by the New Thought Movement. The fundamental praxis of the philosophy suggests that thought precedes movement, that by thinking something and holding the expectation that the desired outcome will occur, the chances of the outcome actually happening is increased. The philosophy is motivated by a pantheistic view of spirituality that dictates the divine being fused with all sum total aspects of life. In relation to the app itself, I doubt the mechanisms that the app operates by are truly appreciated. It seems to be there simply for the "wow" factor, and I'm not sure that people are going to truly investigate it. This is probably for the better, considering that the New Thought Movement has been widely panned by philosophers and physicists alike for its shaky foundations and improbable premises.
That being said, this aspect of the app is largely hidden away in a sprawling info section that is 6 panels long (including a 7th for feedback and support).
Generally the app functions as a surrogate program for Apple's iOS embedded Reminders app, only with an enhanced focus on visual feedback to build familiarity with the goals the user is attempting to achieve. One simply presses "Create Goal," titles it, describes it, and inputs a "Next Step" to help consolidate and make the goal concrete from the get go. The app requires that the user set a date for the suspected goal completion. This seems to strain the atmosphere MyGoalBook is attempting to build, offering a rather structured approach to setting goals. Apple's Reminders app is simple and yet powerful, giving freedom to the user to dertermine what goals to complete and when, without the restrictions of a mandatory completion date. However without the visual associations to goal making that MyGoalBook pushes, often Apple's Reminders app can feel lucid and too fluid for more drawn out and sophisticated goals. Regardless, once the Goal is completed in MyGoalBook, the completed event is pushed to a "Completed Goals" tab, which offers an array of positive visual reinforcement for completing the goal. Also it helps that the user can share their goal setting intentions with others via social media redirects to Facebook and Twitter.
I am under the assumption that MyGoalBook is still in beta or in development and that what I received was a developer's build. If that is correct then please disregard the following section. If not, well...
It's a very ugly app, which seems odd given that the driving philosophy that undergirds the program is associated with the New Age movement. I would have assumed the developers to be rather art savvy, but not so with MyGoalBook. There are only 4 backgrounds to choose from in the "Settings" toolbar built into the app, all of them severely clashing with the overall design of the app. The font selections tool, is an odd choice to implement, given that each text option, other than Georgia, severely clashes with the design philosophy of the app. These are not settings that should be changeable. What these options communicate to me is a profound neglect on behalf of the developers to come up with an attractive shell appearance for the app. I've not even brought the general layout of the app into consideration either. Though the bottom tab conveniently locates all essential functions of app, the most critical aspect of the program, the "Completed Goals" tab presents the hallmark of your achievement enshrined in a stretched, circa 1997 "completed" graphic splayed across the Goal description. I mentioned earlier that using visuals to motivate the user to completing the goal by making it tangible was a strength the app displayed. It is unfortunate then that the picture, which can be ported from the Camera Roll or taken from an embedded camera inside the app, appeared distorted on the page (stretched lengthwise or by width depending on the orientation). I am using an iPhone 5 mind you. So it would make sense that the app isn't optimized for the iPhone 5 screen just yet. Considering however that the iPhone 5 has been out for a year, this again makes the developers appear lazy.
One of the most important aspects of productivity software in any form is clearly defining the intentions of the software. If the software is supposed to assist in making budgets more manageable, then the software should communicate this aspect through function and form. MyGoalBook, to me at least, conveys to me that I can use this software to set goals for myself. This is a good thing, and I'm glad that this software can convey this. However what is missing is the "why" of goal setting. The info tab that conveys the mission statement of the app is rather vague. Why am I setting this goal? Why is it important that I do? MyGoalBook is broadly focused but misses the opportunity to refine exactly what the goals are being set for. Everyone has aspirations to do something big or small. These goals however generally fall into specific categories. Setting goals associated with physical health, financial stability, job finding, home repair, these are much more concrete and allow the user to really lock into their goals with intention. Self actualization is a good reason to improve oneself, but having a reason to self actualize helps. Here I just don't see why I should care about setting goals.
In conclusion I think that MyGoalBook is a strong first effort from an aspiring company that desires their customers to take control of their lives through realistic, day by day approaches to setting personal benchmarks. It's a shame then to see that what functionally works in the app is so bogged down by horrible design and awkward execution.
Total Score: 2.1 of 4.0