Q&A with developer of Expereal – the app for tracking happiness

Tracking your happiness is important. We need to know what makes us tick and in that find out how to avoid feeling unhappy in the future.

By tracking our mood on a daily basis, maybe even twice a day and tagging certain activities as we track our mood, we will soon build a strong picture of what really affects us.

A few are trying to solve this already, such as Mappiness, but there’s a new kid in town, Expereal. And not only is it an impressive app, it’s pretty beautiful too.

We caught up with the developer, Jonathan Cohen, to find out how the app works and why he chose to develop it.

What is Expereal?

JC: Expereal is a mobile app, initially available for iPhone, which allows users to rate and analyze their life experiences, and anonymously compare their ratings with Facebook friends and other app users.

The initial release allows users the ability to:

  • Rate one’s life experiences in the moment using a 10 point scale
  • Capture one’s location, description tags, people and a photo
  • Share individual experience ratings on Facebook
  • Anonymously compare ratings with friends and other users
  • Review past ratings and identify trends

Why did you create the app?

JC: While reading Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, I was struck by Kahneman’s discussion of how our memory, or “remembering self”, is less accurate than we realize.

Instead of reliably recalling how we have experienced something over time, our minds tend to only remember how something ends (relationship, job, vacation, etc.), regardless of duration.

As I surveyed the app landscape, I found means of capturing moods and digital artifacts (status updates, tweets, photos, emoticons, happiness scales, links, videos, etc.), but no app that specifically addressed the experiencing/remembering self biases.

Expereal doesn’t “solve” this problem – which is somewhat intractable – but it does provide users with a longitudinal perspective on one’s satisfaction with the experiences that make up one’s life.  It delivers a more holistic perspective on common questions, such as “how’s my life going this month compared to last month, or last year?”

Additionally, I wondered how our individual feelings of life satisfaction from moment to moment might represent larger cultural trends, particularly given our increasing interconnectedness through the Internet and exposure to media and other stimuli.

With Expereal, I hope to measure and understand this dynamic by having an ongoing, rolling poll of life satisfaction, and offering users a view into the data, while protecting their anonymity as individuals.

In creating Expereal, I have two primary goals. First, I hope to offer a useful lifetracking / lifecasting app that appeals both to quantified self mavens as well as to those who want a simple solution for better understanding and improving their lives.  The early adopting lifehackers might be the first to try it, but I designed it so that any user might benefit with limited effort and quick benefit.  Second, I believe Expereal can spawn a successful and sustainable business.

How was the development process?

JC: Development of the app has been an arduous process.  At the outset, I was challenged to balance robust features and functionality with the financial responsibility of running like a lean startup.

Working with an information architect (Gilbert Yeh) and design team (Jasen Dickan and Diana Lau of Human IG), we worked through the challenges helped by some great development vendors whom have acted more like “partners”.

Ironically, I am hoping that my “remembering self” will only recall our successful intro of the Beta, and not all of the harrowing speed bumps encountered along the way. 


Expereal is now in the App Store, available for free, so there is no reason not to give it a try. I’ve been using it for the past week and find it incredibly simple to use – and with reminders, it doesn’t require you to think to much about the app while you carry on with your day. Get it now, here.


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