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Overall value:
79 pts
Happify app is designed to help users take control of their feelings and thoughts by using various tools and techniques developed by scientists and experts in the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Scores

Cost-in-use
Free with several Pro subscription options ranging from $11.99 to $299.99
72 pts
App Interface Usability
Beautiful design; Overwhelming amount of features and information may ruin user experience
76 pts
Multimedia Usage
The app includes games, videos, images and infographics
93 pts
Real World Usability
Fun way to relieve stress, but it's not backed by evidence-based science
73 pts

How you feel matters. Whether you're feeling happy, or stressed, anxious, or depressed, it can affect you health. Dealing with constant negative thoughts is burden that many people carry every day that affects not only their emotional wellbeing, but their health in general.

Reducing stress, overcoming negative thoughts, and building greater resilience are goals that many of us are striving for. Unfortunately, we rarely ask for professional help.

Although there are many efficient self-help methods we rather choose, improving mental health on a long term is a tough battle that requires all aid possible.

Advent of mobile technologies made the search for positive outlook on life much easier thanks to numerous mobile apps that help users overcome their anxiety, depression and negative thoughts.

We already reviewed a couple of apps that use self-help methods, such as MoodTools app and Self-help Anxiety Management app.

Similar to these tools is the app we review today called Happify, that started as a website back in 2014. The main goal of Happify app is helping users take control of their feelings and thoughts by using various tools and techniques developed by scientists and experts who've been studying evidence-based interventions in the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Happify app is designed to improve mental health by acting as a guided journal to help users uplift themselves from anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, and the struggles of daily life. 

The app is free to download and use most of its features, but it also offers Plus subscriptions that range from $11.99 to $299.99. The app requires all users to register. 

Before setting up an account the users are taken through the survey that will help the app design a personalized track for each user beneficial for their individual journey to happier life.

The survey includes 14 questions that range from inquiries about user's gender, age, employment and relationship status, kids, how often they interact with other people, how comfortable they are sharing their feelings with others, and so on.

After the survey is finished (and registration completed), a recommended track will be created and the user will be given 10 days to complete it. Each day unlocks a new activity. 

The first thing I've noticed after I opened the app, besides its beautiful design, is how crowded and hasty it is. Users are literally 'bombarded' with questions, tutorial tips, and features as soon as they open the app, and it can be a little overwhelming. You'd need some time to settle down and look around to get a full grasp of the app.

Honestly, I'm not the fan of this approach. The app that promotes healthy techniques to reduce stress and anxiety should be a lot 'calmer' and not behaving like a frenzied salesman.

Based on the answers I provided in the survey, the app created the first track for me named Cope Better with Stress. The part 1 of this track was named Slow Down and I got 10 days to complete it. There were two current activities The Power of the Positive Thinking and My Week's Accomplishments, and six more activities to come (not sure if after buying subscription).

The Power of the Positive Thinking basically features games that are supposed to train your brain for positivity, lift your mood and reduce negative thinking. Users listen to soothing music, while hot air balloons fly around the screen, with various words appearing on them. 

The object of the game is to get as many points as possible by tapping on the balloons when positive words appear and ignoring the negative words.  Tapping on balloons with positive words will eventually chase them away off the screen, which completes the round.

The problem is that words on balloons are switching too fast, while the balloons are moving across the screen. So users might become frustrated after tapping on negative words instead of positive. Again, not the greatest method to fight the stress.

Happify app also includes other games, such as Savor Quest, which requires users to find hidden objects in the scene, or Negative Knockout that is basically Angry Birds game clone in which users knock out their negative thoughts and worries.

While this approach looks interesting, I'm not sure how playing these games actually benefits users and make them happy. If this is method that works, then users could simply download and play any similar game from the app store.

Happify app allows users to add entries into a journal and write about random acts of kindness they have completed. The goal of journal is to make the users become more aware how the little things they do can make them happier and each day more joyful.

Users can use the app to meditate through the Guided Meditation section that provides useful tips, or enjoy serene scenery or music.
The app also shares various articles, videos, quotes and facts that will help its users maintain positive thinking. Users can choose to use the app privately or share their achievements with public thanks to the social media component and community feature.

Although the app states it uses scientifically backed principles and exercises, I couldn't find a single link or reference to the scientific resources used. The truth is that each game, activity and exercise comes with an explanation on how it works and how it's supposed to reduce stress and anxiety in a person's life, but unfortunately it's not backed by evidence-based science.

Overall, Happify app is just a fun way of killing stress that may work for some people looking to draw attention to positive thinking. Others who don't find this approach too efficient may look for other solutions to fight anxiety, depression and negative thoughts.

Benefit: Users looking for self-help method to combat stress, anxiety, depression and negative thoughts may find this app fun and useful

Verdict:

For
  • Very nice design
  • A lot of various tools and techniques included
  • Journal entries that help users track their goals and achievements
  • The app includes reminders
Against
  • The amount of features and information upon starting the app can be overwhelming
  • Games are fun, but it's not clear how they help users combat stress and anxiety
  • Benefits of principles and exercises are not backed by science, although the app claims otherwise

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