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Posted at 04:51 PM ET, 08/16/2012

Lift releases invite-only beta; mobile app aims to help users track daily habits


A screenshot of the mobile app Lift.

Update 8/17 10:34 a.m.: If you want to give Lift a try you can sign up to enter the beta now, and social graph features are arriving this week, according to Stubblebine who provided the update via e-mail Thursday.

Lift has finally gone beta.

The app, which has been in development under The Obvious Corporation’s banner, was announced nearly a year ago. The beta was released Tuesday to a small group to kick the tires.

Lift is a habit tracker. It allows you to enter tasks, such as flossing, showing up to work on time, reading and exercise into a list. Each time you accomplish a task, you get to hit a large check-marked button, reporting to everyone else who seeks to accomplish this task that you have successfully completed it. Meanwhile, meters keep track of your “momentum,” and monthly frequency for each task.

When you’ve successfully completed a task, other users can give you ”props,” similar to the Facebook like function and you can comment on certain tasks.

The application hooks into Twitter, porting over details from that account, including your avatar. However tracking the social activity is somewhat hidden, since the “recent activity” button isn’t on the main screen. Instead, it’s relegated to the “sign out,” “send feedback” and ”Settings” menu list. I almost wanted to see that first before getting to my list of tasks.


A screenshot of the mobile app Lift.
The app feels as if it has bits and pieces of other social media and motivational apps out there, with shades of Nike+’s suite of exercise apps, which I use on a pretty regular basis, or Way of Life, with a liberal sprinkling of Twitter and at least the “like” function from Facebook, complete with the thumbs-up symbol.

In an invitation to the beta, Tony Stubblebine, Lift’s CEO and co-founder wrote that the app is ”an early version of an iPhone app that we plan to launch in late August.”

Stubblebine went on to preface that the app is “buggy, incomplete, and may crash on you.” I have only encountered a couple of bugs, including that, at one point, my tasks wouldn’t appear, making the app essentially useless. They eventually re-appeared.

The app has, at least in the last couple of days encouraged me to do more of the things I already do, rather than help me break the ice on tasks that I know I want to do, but don’t. In that way at least, Lift does motivate. I have found myself checking into the app a couple of times a day or more and, should more of my social graph be incorporated into Lift, I can see how it could become an app I check into regularly.

In June, I asked Stubblebine about Lift and how it was progressing in the lead-up to release. Here’s the transcript:

Q: You mention that Lift is an iPhone app, any plans for the iPad? Will there be an opportunity to interact via the desktop Web (for those who wish to chart their work habits)?

Stubblebine: We're trying to invent a special experience that makes you feel incredible every time you achieve anything, big or small. We love the iPhone as the place to build our first version because it goes everywhere with you and is already a beautiful experience. Of course, we'll eventually expand until everyone can get Lift, but for now, we're 100 percent focused on building the most incredible experience possible.


A screenshot of the mobile app Lift.
How does Lift substantially differ from other lifestyle apps? For example, how will Lift improve on apps such as Nike+ GPS in terms of motivating exercise, etc.

Tracking is a fundamental tool for change that’s been part of our culture for more than five decades. Some people build incredibly complex tracking tools that feel like you’re filling out a survey. Other people are building rigid game systems that only work to support one way of achieving a goal. Lift is a fast way to track your progress toward any goal and to get support from a positive community of people like you. That’s the difference: speed, social, and positivity.

What attracted you to the work of BJ Fogg and persuasive technology?

My life ambition is to build an institution that can have a massive impact for good. I knew that I wanted to do something in the human potential space, which is anything that helps us be better versions of ourselves. When I ran into BJ Fogg, I immediately knew that we could build a tool based on his research.

The persuasive part of social software is extremely powerful. It’s like having a group of supportive friends in your pocket. Those friends give you added motivation and help you get unstuck when you have questions.

Many have assumed that technology has made us more connected, while others have argued it is a false connection and we are actually becoming more alienated. Given that Lift aims to improve our relationships, among other aspects of life, what is your take on this central argument?

Lift is a tool to help people achieve any goal, so it’s really up to the community of Lift users to pick which goals are important to them. I can tell you that in the early beta testing, almost all of the goals are for living better in the real world. Of course, many are health and exercise, but we also have ones like “talk to at least one stranger,” “don’t check internet before work,” and say “I love you.” 

What do you think: Do you plan to use Lift? Are you on the beta testing group. Let us know in the comments.

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By  |  04:51 PM ET, 08/16/2012

Categories:  Business, Technology

 
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