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iOS paved the way for apps we couldn’t have dreamed of just a few short years ago, allowing users to work, play, and dream bigger than ever. But can an app actually motivate users to improve their lives? That’s the single-minded mission behind Tortoise, an achievement-oriented app that meticulously dictates the changes we need to make in order to realize success.
It may sound like something out of Scientology, but Tortoise: The Life Planning App frowns upon taking shortcuts through life, attempting to make the most of a “slow and steady wins the race” philosophy through slick graphics and a comprehensive, well-designed user interface. At the heart of Tortoise are three steps for achieving your goals: Assess, Plan, and Track. Users are first presented with a series of questions aimed at assessing where you are today and where you’d like to be in the future from seven unique categories: Mind, Passions, Spirit, Relationships, Career, Money, and Body.
The app uses touch-based sliders to answer seven questions in each category, after which you'll add your own text describing present and future goals for each. To help accomplish these goals, you can add “actions” -- customized daily, weekly, or monthly reminders, which can be set up as recurring or one-time. At any time, you can skip the assessment phase and jump straight into your plan of action -- here you’ll find tabs for The Big Race (where you stand on life categories, ranked from zero to 100 percent), The Plan (an overview of your goals), Daily Actions (where you can check off completed tasks) and Weekly Review, which “grades” you in each category based on what you’ve accomplished over the last seven days.
While Tortoise is well designed and executed, its guidance and advice is not for everyone. Being in my mid-forties, I didn’t personally get much out of the app -- I’ve accomplished my big goals in life and prefer to live a somewhat guilt-free existence with fewer firm objectives laid out before me. However, for twenty-somethings and hardcore types who live and die by planning and executing every excruciating detail of every single day, this app is going to be right up their alley.
One thing’s for sure: You’ll want to invest in a Bluetooth keyboard to get the most out of Tortoise -- the app requires more than a casual amount of typing, which may frustrate those using the software-based keyboard. And you should also approach with an open mind, because the developers place great emphasis on a spiritual approach to life, asking tough questions that are likely to overwhelm less focused dabblers.
The bottom line. Tortoise: The Life Planning App asks a lot from users, but rewards those committed to using it properly with guidance for getting the most of life. The app is best suited to those who are already goal-oriented; for everyone else, its heavy-handed approach will likely be a turn-off instead.
iPad running iOS 4.0 or later
Comprehensive, attractive user interface. Step-by-step guidance at every turn. Allows users to skip sections and easily return to them later.
Frequently too heavy-handed with spiritual guidance. May prove overwhelming to casual users. Large amount of required text entry makes Bluetooth keyboard highly recommended.