We test allergy apps for you on smartphones and tablets. Allergy Journal is the second application in our review series.
Allergy Journal is a food and symptom diary that helps users identify intolerances. Allergy Journal is currently only available in English.
Overview of the app
The app opens in entry mode, where the user can enter foods and symptoms.
Once the foods and symptoms have been entered, they are stored and can be quickly added later. Entire meals can also be stored, making it easier to add new entries.
The timing of foods and symptoms are logged separately so that delayed reactions can be clearly identified.
If same symptoms have already occurred after eating a certain food, the app sounds an alarm.
Usable results can only be obtained from the app if all the ingredients have been entered. For example, if a food product contains milk, nuts and mustard, all of these must be entered. This can be difficult for restaurant meals if the recipe cannot be obtained. It is easier for users who usually prepare their own meals or have access to precise information about the ingredients. It is always important to enter complete and accurate information.
The app generates detailed reports, which is one of its key features. The reports can help with a medical diagnosis. However, the makers of Allergy Journal fail to clarify that the app is not a substitute for a professional medical advice. App users might therefore be tempted to self-diagnose.
Both food and symptoms are logged in the journal so that personal analyses can be generated for both.
The reports are stored on the phone. They can be sent by email and exported as in PDF format or as an Excel table.
All app entries in the journal are saved in chronological order. Individual data can also be exported, edited or deleted. Incorrect entries can be quickly corrected or deleted.
Settings and data protection
In order for the application to run correctly, the smartphone must be authorised to access photos, media and data. A PIN code can be issued to protect the journal entries from being accessed by third parties.
The data is stored locally on the phone. Allergy Journal can also be linked to an existing Dropbox account. This is useful for obtaining a better overview of all the analyses and viewing them on other devices. They are stored in PDF format or as an Excel table. Storing personal data in Dropbox is of course not as secure as on one’s own phone.
Big Bang Partners LLC is an American app developer based in New York City.
Pros & cons
- The app is easy to use and the menu navigation is clear. Entries can be made quickly, which saves a lot of time. This allows the user to keep consistent records with little effort.
- The data are easy to analyse and export. Users who log regularly with the app can help their doctor with the diagnosis.
- Many apps are free because the user data are sold and used by third parties. Allergy Journal is a paid, ad-free app. The data are stored locally on the user’s smartphone. They are not sold to third parties and the user retains control over the data and their use.
Areas for improvement:
- Although the app is not a certified medical aid, it makes a bold claim: “Allergy Journal will show you what you are allergic to!”
- Medications can only be added as notes and cannot be included in reports. This makes the analysis more difficult.
- In addition, well-being and sports activities can only be added as notes.
- The current entries for the day only appear in reports after restarting the smartphone.
- If the user switches devices or reinstalls the app, the collected data are lost, since they are not linked to a user account. It is therefore important to export the data on a regular basis.
- The app is unfortunately only available in English at this time.
The quality of the results provided by Allergy Journal depends largely on whether the user enters data regularly and precisely into the app. The more detailed the food and symptom entries, the more useful the results. Unfortunately, other key factors such as medications, well-being and physical activity cannot be fully integrated. Apart from that, the app is well developed and user-friendly. However, Allergy Journal cannot replace professional medical advice, even if the app makers claim that it can. Users may be tempted to self-diagnose, which could lead to improper treatment or none at all. As long as the user is aware of this, the app can be a useful aid for medical diagnosis and therapy.
Classified as a medical product: no
Operating system: Apple iOS 9.0; Android 4.0 and higher (we tested the app on an Android smartphone)
Price: iOS: €0.99; Android: €1.09