By: Diana Tang
Apparently, I’m supposed to drink eight cups of water a day. However, being the extremely healthy, active person that I am, I probably drink maybe a maximum of two cups a day, and my parents never let me hear the end of it. But really, where’s the motivation to get up out of my chair, pour myself a glass of water—multiple times in a day! Oh, the horror!—and drink so much water?
But with the advent of fitness apps, it’s becoming easier and easier to monitor your health in a creative way. Plant Nanny, an iOS app created by fourdesire, a Taiwanese company, encourages its users to drink a specific amount of water after inputting their weight and body activity. Every time you drink water, you water a plant and watch it grow. And the worst part—if you don’t drink enough water, you watch your plant slowly wither and die, which, trust me, is one of the most depressing experiences ever. Because the plants look so adorable, with large, pleading, shining eyes and pleasant color schemes, as well as short backstories and names, the game personifies the plants and instills a sense of guilt when you aren’t taking proper care of your plant—and your body.
Typical to any good health-related app, the customization in Plant Nanny goes beyond expectations. You can not only name your plants and choose the type of plant, pot, and background, but also create different measures of “watering” your plant, from a water bottle to a mug to a coffee cup. The app is just so visually appealing and tailored to you that it is hard to resist, even though it isn’t even remotely close to an engaging game.
Even more necessary for apps promoting healthy behavior is the annoying, persistent notifications. The creators of the app were fully aware that remembering to drink water can be a hassle, so the user can customize notifications to drink water every couple of hours, and if phone notifications just don’t suit you, you can turn them off as well.
But this app isn’t exactly perfect. Every time you “water” your plant, there is no physical growth to your plant; instead, you must drink enough water to advance to another level, and your plant will magically evolve. Unfortunately, this makes it seem as if not every cup of water promotes good health and improvement, and I wonder: why am I drinking this cup of water if it’s not making my plant really grow and change? Because the plant metaphorically represents the user’s body and health, some users might feel discouraged or too lazy to drink more water. Instead, the app should seek to present the image that every cup of water that the user is beneficial to his or her health.
Fitness apps aren’t perfect: you need to have a desire to change your unhealthy habits, and the apps are there for convenience and encouragement. If you don’t believe that drinking more water, and through extension, maintaining the health of your organs, is worth it, then trust me, you will find no success with Plant Nanny. It’s not hard to lie to an iPhone app, but if there is even a seed of interest in keeping yourself healthy by drinking water, Plant Nanny will help grow that tiny bit of motivation into an adorable plant.