Pregnancy? There’s an app for that

It should come as no shock that I’ve been looking at tech tools to help in all sorts of ways with the pregnancy and raising our kid. I mean, I have about every major Apple product under the sun so iPhone and iPad apps are a must.

Plus the kid already has a Twitter account. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Er, onesie.

So I went looking for things. I’m staying away from games and learning tools right now, although I’m sure that will come in time. I have this thing about having the kid appreciate books first before an iPad. The best gift I have that a lot of my students don’t is that I remember when it was hard, really hard, to find information and knowledge. I want my child to realize that as a way of seeing how blessed we are.

I’m struck by what a huge ecosystem of apps there is for all kinds of different functions of parenting, from the prenatal stage to raising your kids. It wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a market for it, and most of these things are, to use baseball lingo, toolsy. They’re there to make the process more organized, or easier, or something.

So what apps have I been playing with? I wanted to list some of my favorites in case anyone on the Web is looking for something good. Bear in mind these are all for iOS only. I didn’t research Android (or Windows Phone for the 5 people who use that).


1. Hello Baby (iPad) – This is a gorgeous app, and it’s free. It has artistic renderings of what the child looks like as it grows, so you see visual changes from week-to-week from a single cell into a baby. Each week comes with information about what is developing. It customizes based on your due date and even has places to enter in information from visits, such as the baby’s estimated size and heartbeat.

2. Baby Bump (iPhone) – This app has a free and a pay version. Not as pretty as other apps, but lots of useful info. You enter in the due date and it gives you a countdown to birth, which each day offering more information about development, body changes, and tips for preparing before the birth. It also tells you size for that week in terms you understand (this week the baby is the size of a butternut squash). This app has other cool things like a kick counter and a place to do a journal for expectant moms.

3. Pregnancy Tracker From What To Expect (iPhone) – Another good pregnancy tracker. I like the information on this app. Lots of tips to help you learn and get adjusted. What I don’t like is you have to create an account, thus giving your email away. I signed up with a disposable address, but still.

4. Pregnancy Food No-Nos (all formats) – I downloaded this app after we went to a restaurant and had a question about a type of cheese on the menu. Crawling the Web on the browser of my phone was a pain in the neck, so I went looking for an app that had all of this. The app also has information for what you can/can’t do after the baby is born. The iPad and iPhone apps are different and both are good (and free!), but personally I like the phone version better because I usually need this information in portable and mobile forms.

5. Contraction Master (iPhone) – This was a super app to have while my wife was in labor. Expectant dads should already know the 5-1-1 criteria for going to the hospital (contractions 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, status that way for at least 1 hour) but having a tool on hand to handle all the timing is good. It helps build a record of where you’re at in the 5-1-1 process and generates useful reports that help you assess where you are in the process. Everything is based on a single button push every time a contraction starts and stops. Very simple to use, which is great because you don’t want to be arguing over how to use an app in the throes of labor.

After the baby is born

1. Baby Sign ASL (all formats) – Before the baby learns to talk, you help it learn about language via sign language. This app teaches you basic sign language so you can say a word such as “thank you” while signing it, helping babies make the connection between words and meaning. My nieces did sign language and it helps them be expressive before they can talk. I think the app is a bit pricey considering what you get, but it’s been a good learning tool.

2. Diaper Bag checklist (all formats) – Another good app for making sure you remember everything. I’m sure after a while I’ll be a pro at it, but I am a checklist guy. Free app, so I don’t feel like I have to use it all the time to get my money’s worth.

3. Baby Sleep Schedule (all formats) – At $4 it remains to be seen if it’s worth it, but it comes with good recommendations. You can input as much or little information as you like, but its real purpose is to help you set up a sleep schedule for the baby and mind it for you so you aren’t having to pay attention to one more thing. It strikes me that many of these baby apps are made to do that, to take one thing off the list of things you have to do.

Any moms or dads out there? Which ones do you recommend?

Adding my own initial thoughts about Google+

Note: This is crossposted from my personal site @JeremyLittau

I love Google+ way too much. I just hope it doesn’t go the way of Wave.

I have been tooling around on Plus, Google’s latest foray into social, for a couple days now. Plus is being sold as a social network competitor to Facebook, and the comparison makes some sense (and it’s illustrated hilariously by xkcd). There are equivalents to status updates, commenting, Likes, and posting content that mirror Facebook. But there’s a lot more to Plus than that. It has some of the best features of Twitter in that you can do things publicly but also group yourselves into different types of tribes (more on that in a second). It also has a reblogging feature that mirrors some of what is good about Tumblr.

But the backbone of Plus is essentially a salvo at Facebook’s glaring weakness: privacy and control of how you share. Enter the organizing tool for Plus known as “Circles.” The best way to describe it is that it’s a way to take all the people you connect with and put them in buckets that serve as categories. Then when you want to do a status update, share a post, and so forth, you can pick the circles who see the message. Or you could just enter one user’s profile (or even an email address) and thus it’s viewable only to them. Essentially they have integrated email and your news feed into the same space. Read the rest of this entry »

Gaming the library (and going beyond just books and knowledge)

The Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory points out a fascinating part of Jerome Lettvin’s obitiary:

At MIT, his office in Building 20 was crammed with books, most overdue from the college library. Dr. Lettvin claimed he did not return them because the library would send him the students who wanted those books, and he would interview them as potential assistants.”

Jerome was gaming the library. He was holding onto resources that like-minded individuals desired in order to make professional connections. Cool.

Maybe the greatest part of libraries isn’t what’s in them, but the people that go to them.