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Review: DrinkTracker Breathalyzer

by Ian
August 5, 2009




DrinkTracker is ... you guessed it, a blood alcohol content calculator. It is well made and has some great features, but I don't know if it can stand out in an over-saturated market of similar apps. I used DrinkTracker during a recent night of drunken debauchery and it worked great tracking my level of drunkenness throughout the night. If you're looking to get pissed and want to know just how pissed you are, DrinkTracker is a good choice. Even though DrinkTracker is better than other BAC calculators I've seen and used (like the free app Last Call), DrinkTracker is only slightly better. Let's explore DrinkTracker in depth to see if it's worth the money.


img_0351Simply set up a profile for yourself by specifying your gender, weight and height and then start logging your drinks as you consume them. If you screwed up and forgot one or two drinks you can easily set the time to whenever you drank them. Soon you'll be on your way to being sloshed and you'll have a pretty good estimation of how close you are to vomiting. The app is well made and has support for U.S. (also Imperial) and Metric measurement systems and it also helps you find a taxi or get traveling directions for when your done. When it's time to add a new drink you can quickly look at a list of common types of drinks with standard proofs or you can go in and add your own. If you close the app and reopen it to add another drink or check your level of drunkenness, it picks up where it was and calculates for the time in between. If there's one feature that sets this app apart it's the ability to set a target BAC. Every BAC calculator is a rough estimation of how blitzed you actually are, but what's important to most people is identifying your unique happy place. Or your unique sad place if you're "that" guy. My happy place is somewhere between .08 and .12. So I set my target BAC at .08 and when I drank myself there the app offered a pop-up letting me know I achieved my goal. This is an important feature to me because, whether the actual BAC is perfectly accurate or not, I can trust the consistency of the formula to keep me at that level of being hammered.

The Breakdown

The Good

photo-3I've exchanged several emails with Greg Slapp, owner of DrinkTracker, and he clearly knows what he's talking about when it comes to how pissed you are. He's been running the Web site for the past 10 years and it's essentially the same thing as DrinkTracker. I asked him several technical question about the app. His knowledge on the subject and quick turnaround time was impressive. One of the questions was about the "drink now" button. I wanted to know whether it assumed you've consumed the entire drink when you press the button. Should I tap the button when I start a glass/bottle or when I finish? Does it make a major difference whether you chug the drink or drink it slowly? His answer:
"We tussled with that issue ourselves. As soon as you press the drink now button, all of the alcohol contained in the drink is put into the BAC calculation. Doing it when you have your first sip will cause the BAC to display over by about 0.018% initially, but by the time you've finished drinking it your actual BAC and the theoretical will be pretty much the same, since both your body and the calculated model have recorded an input of alcohol in your system, it's just that the calculation thinks it's been there a bit longer. But even from the first sip there's been alcohol for the body to metabolise so the metabolic removal kicks in at the same time in both cases. On the other hand, if you hit the drink now button when you've finished the drink, the BAC will read higher by about 0.006 because the calculation hasn't been able to take into account that the alcohol has been in your system for time since the first mouthful, and so has been partially metabolised. The downside of doing it this way is that the calculation will never catch-up because the unrecorded consumption time is never able to be included in the calculation, and is permanently missing from any subsequent BAC calculations. Pressing it when you take your first sip is the more accurate method of the two, although half-way through would actually be ideal."
Another great thing about DrinkTracker is it integrates really well with the Google Maps API so you can get driving, walking or public transit directions already made when it dumps you into the Maps app. In other words, if you enter set up a list of address in DrinkTracker for places you might visit throughout your night of drinking, it's just one step to get directions and find transportation to your next destination.

The Bad

img_0345 I'm a relatively tall, fat American at 230 pounds and 6 foot 2 inches tall. As you can see on the left, I entered that information into DrinkTracker. However, chances are you're also Americans and thus don't understand how to quantify kilograms or centimeters. Those of you who can understand what 61 kilograms means should also know that it doesn't equate to 230 pounds. Apparently I'm also a stupid American. The app defaults to metric measurements when you open it for the first time. I did a quick conversion using a widget on the computer and, not thinking about it too carefully, accidentally converted 130 pounds into kilograms, with the result being 61 kilograms. Yes, I gave myself the proportions of Gumby rather than Homer Simpson. So, for an entire night, I thought I was so much more wasted than I actually was. I wanted to be a drunk, fat American. Apparently I was a semi-drunk, dumb, fat American. I discovered later that you can change all the units to U.S., but by then the damage had been done. It's really a small gripe in the long run and I doubt most users will be as dumb as me, but I wanted to share my experience honestly. Slapp said the app should be able to set the default units automatically in the next major upgrade based on what country you're in, so that should alleviate the problem of morons like me using apps. The only major downside to this app is that I can get most of the features in it from a free app - Last Call. It's nothing against DrinkTracker itself. Like I said before, the app is well made. But this app, like all the others I've seen, is all business and no fun. When I'm at the bar with friends I want to be able to turn my iPhone around and show everyone else in big 2 inch tall sparkling numbers that I am sloshed out of my mind. I want something with a user interface along the lines of Weightbot but for the exact opposite purpose (doing very bad things to my mind and body). There should be pictures of glasses and bottles so I can identify the size drink I'm consuming without reading a lot of tiny words. There should be jokes which flash on the screen from time to time. In other words, I want a BAC calculator to be more childish. It'd also be nice if the app could pull locations from your contacts. As it stands, you have to enter addresses in manually.

The Verdict

DrinkTracker is definitely a quality app, unfortunately, it suffers from an over-saturated market of similar apps. If you do buy DrinkTracker you'd be buying from someone who has a long history with BAC calculation, so it's very likely it will improve over time as this guy is in it for the long haul. I can only hope the developers look for ways to differentiate DrinkTracker from similar offerings.  Greg, you interested in making it more fun, you know, for us dumb fat Americans?

Mentioned apps

Last Call
Last Call
Avvo, Inc.

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