Evaluating principles

Any product review is based in the reviewer’s personal principles, whether those are made explicit or not. Because health tracking products relate to such personal parts of our lives, I want to be transparent about the lens through which I evaluate them. After all, what makes a great product for me may be different for you, and vice versa.

Know that when I review an app or product, I’m doing it with the following four principles in mind.

1. You should own your data

Data is personal, and your health data is some of the most sensitive data there is. I believe that people should own their private information, including health data, both on- and offline. This means that when a company collects your data—for example, through a fitness wearable or period tracking app—they don’t take ownership of that data, and should not be able to sell it to third parties. You should be the customer, not the product.

2. You should be able to access your data

Because you own your data, I believe that the fitness wearables and apps you use should give you access to that data without extra paywalls and barriers. Broadly, this means I favor health tracking products that don’t include a separate monthly subscription to access your data.

3. The product should be based on real science

Health claims (about your body, a diet, a supplement, a product, or anything else) should be grounded in science. Anyone trying to sell you something for your health should be able to substantiate their claims with legitimate data or research.

4. The product should support you in knowing your body better

I am a proponent of body literacy.

Body literacy means listening to your body’s rhythms, signals, and changes so that you can better understand your body and health.

Because of this, I favor products that help you interpret your body’s signals over those that leave you reliant on the app’s interpretation for insights. (For example: for fertility awareness, I favor a charting app that allows you to identify your fertile window over one that tells you when you are and are not fertile.) This counts especially for reproductive health products, where an incorrect interpretation can have serious consequences.

I understand that not everyone shares this perspective. Some people may strongly prefer technology that does the interpretative work for them—maybe even for the very same reason that I prefer the opposite. That’s fine! When I review an product, I will be explicit when a feature goes against one of these principles but may still be a good fit for someone who doesn’t have the same perspective.