This is part of the DeeperBlue.com Freediving App Review Series – a collection of reviews of Freediving related mobile apps. Each app has been reviewed based on a standardized set of criteria you can see here. In this article we review the Apnea Trainer App.
Apps designed to improve a diver’s performance are becoming more prevalent, offering freedivers a number of styles and areas of focus. When Apnea Trainer was introduced in 2010 by Jan Luther, it was one of the first of it’s kind. This App is built around “Apnea Tables”, which are designed to build a diver’s tolerance to dissolved Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the blood, and diminished Oxygen (O2) levels. The App also incorporates a Pranayama training mode (a yoga breathing technique) and the Custom Pro Training mode. All three training modes are customizable by the user.
Once Apnea Trainer is downloaded, the user is first presented with the “training screen”, which pictures a pair of “inhaling lungs”! Out of the gate, the user could press the start button on the bottom of the screen and start immediately with the default settings, but personal preferences and starting points are easily entered under the “Setting” tab on the bottom of the screen, where we also find the stopwatch function and the start button. The user can customize any of the three training modes for their own skill level under the settings tab.
The settings tab reveals a number of features; there is a useful “Help” section at the bottom of the tab which contains the instructions, FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), a Feedback link and App support. Above that is the ‘Statistics” tab which tracks Total Session Time, Total Cycles completed, and has a “Performance Index” score. According to the developer, Apnea Trainer‘s Performance Index score is “a multiplier based on your personal performance to increase or decrease your Apnea Timing” according to the developer. The top tab is the “App Preferences” and allows the user to dim screen, turn on a voice countdown feature, set time, set the App to vibrate between inhaling and exhaling stages (for a quiet practice session)and a reminder setting which will send you a sound/banner alert to do your Apnea training.
After completing the desired number of cycles of breaths, or rounds, the diver can stop the app by tapping the start button again. This triggers a pop-up screen that asks the user to rate whether the selected timing was OK, Too easy, or Too hard. By selecting Too hard or Too easy, Apnea Trainer changes the time settings for the next training session, either increasing or decreasing the length of each action.
For the purpose of reviewing Apnea Trainer‘s effectiveness, we used all the training modes. This allowed the reviewers to review their functionality. We found that the Pranayama Training mode would have benefited from some background information on Pranayama Breathing and Yoga as used by freedivers. This might be something the developer could add to the App.
The App is well-crafted and easy to navigate. The $2.99 price tag seems appropriate for the quality and usefulness of this App. The “inhaling lungs” graphics on the Training Screen seems a bit “hokey”, but doesn’t detract from the effectiveness, and the user can always rely on the audio countdown for reference.
While we think that Apnea Trainer would be better served by having the Settings screen be the first one the user sees, once you navigate to the Settings section, the FAQ’s and the Instructions are quite helpful. We liked the “Statistics” tab, which provided a graphical representation of a diver’s session results. It is a lot like a dive computer, far more diligent in storing dive info than we are typically about writing it down.
In answering one of the FAQ’s, Jan states that
“With the provided “Apnea Training” mode in this app, you get CO2, O2 and diaphragm muscle training…“
There are numerous iterations of CO2 and O2 tables and opinions on the best training regimen, duration, frequency and number of rounds in a session. With this App, the user can use the customizable training table, a “blended” CO2/O2 tables, and find out what is most effective for themselves. In concluding our test of this App, we find that the overall effectiveness of Apnea Trainer and the ease of use make it one of the most enjoyable one rated.
As an added benefit, Apnea Trainer comes in the following languages: English, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish and Traditional Chinese.
So, let’s see what we found:
Price: It’s $2.99.
Functionality: This App was the first one reviewed, and subsequently, was used more than any of the others. There are a couple of tweaks that could be made to make this a little more “user friendly”, but it is an effective training tool for apnea divers.
Relevance/Usefulness: The Apnea Training Table is very straightforward and effective. The “Custom Pro” Table requires some baseline data from prior training to make them effective. There is some discussion in the FAQ’s section regarding the training philosophy and that this App is about Technique as much as straightforward training to tables. The Pranayama Table is very useful if one studies a little about this Yoga Breathing discipline first.
Graphics/Appearance: The “breathing lungs” graphic leaves no question on the start screen that this is about breathing. The layout is fine and the tabs and buttons are easy to navigate.
The Apple iPhone version is available on the Mac App Store for devices that run the iOS7 or later operating system. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, this app is optimized for the iPhone 5. The Apnea Trainer App costs $2.99 and can be downloaded at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/apnea-trainer/id391269557?mt=8