I got a smartphone for the first time in March of this year. I had wanted the iPhone for years, but was tired of waiting for it to come out on Sprint. (Of course, once I gave in, Sprint announced they were getting the iPhone. As much as I love Apple products though, I can't say for sure I'd switch to the iPhone once I'm ready for my next upgrade. I've gotten a little bit addicted to certain Android apps & features.)
I've found the phone mildly addictive in some ways (Google Reader on phone = bad idea?) and super helpful in many others - including doula work. I thought I'd do a post on a few of the apps I've found useful as a doula, and ask for app suggestions that others have discovered.
When you're meeting up with clients at their houses, or various places out in the community, or driving to unfamiliar hospitals, navigation is wonderful! One of my favorite things about the Android is that Google Maps is your in-phone GPS. This is absolutely amazing, not just for the directions but for a lot of other little details. For example, when you arrive at your destination, it will show you the Google Maps street-level photo of the address you're looking for. I am using it constantly for both doula and non-doula navigational needs (I have a terrible sense of direction.)
I definitely don't spend a lot of time at births timing contractions (I don't spend a lot of time at births looking at the clock, period), since most of what you need to know about labor progress you can tell more from looking and listening than you can by timing. But there is the occasional situation where it's helpful to do a little contraction tracking, especially when getting ready to pass along information to the midwife or doctor. I found it helpful in dark, quiet room while the mom was resting with her eyes closed. There were no lights and no light-up clocks (other than my phone), but I felt like her contractions were lasting surprisingly long. I turned my screen brightness all the way down and was able to just hit the button silently whenever I heard her start or finish a contraction, and pass along the information to her midwife. This app is simple, free, and does exactly what you want it to: show duration and frequency of contractions.
I've written about this app before, and now it's on the Android Market proper! Quick and easy look-up for medication safety & breastfeeding, from the comprehensive database maintained by the NIH. I make a point of using it and demoing it in front of the medical providers who should know about it - already got an ER doc to download it this way!
"Whitelist" call screening apps
The one holy grail app I am still searching for is a "whitelist" call screener. Especially since I work nights, I am at very high risk for getting phone calls when I'm sleeping. But when I'm on call, I cannot turn off my phone. All doulas face this problem in some form: you might be at movies, at work, in class, etc. You're willing to let your phone buzz or ring quietly for a client, (knowing it's highly unlikely they'll call during that time) but when the dentist calls to confirm your appointment it's kind of embarrassing. What you want is an app that screens calls, so that your clients' phone numbers are OK to ring through, and and all others will be sent to voicemail.
VIP Alert worked perfectly, but when the whitelist numbers rang through, the ring would just be a soft beep. That would work perfectly in a movie or meeting, but I needed something to wake me up! It now seems to have been updated so you can adjust the volume, but at the time I tried it, that was a no-go. I'd be curious to try it again.
I tried Profile Call Blocker, but it just did not work the way I wanted it to. No matter how I adjusted it, the blocked calls would still ring through briefly before getting blocked - long enough to wake me up. I e-mailed the developers and didn't hear back from them. It might work on a different model of phone than I have (HTC Hero) but I can't recommend it myself. Also, it had a lot of other features I didn't really need, just to get at the one thing I did need.
I haven't tried Semisilent since I just discovered it while doing research for this post, but it looks promising! Does anyone have experience with it?
OK, this isn't really a doula-specific app. Um, I'm listing it because it makes it faster to write e-mails to your clients? I'm just putting it in here because I love it so much. Seriously, it is the best typing/keyboard app I have tried, and I have tried multiple. Instead of tap-tap-tapping out each word, you just slide your finger from letter to letter and Swype magically guesses the word that you want (occasionally you have to correct it, but not often). I probably type 3-4x faster with this method than I ever did thumb-typing. You can't find it in the Market - you have to go to the Swype website. The trouble is worth it!
Other apps doulas have found useful? Feel free to list iPhone apps...maybe I can be tempted to switch!!