Spreadsheets

By Greg Stevens on September 11th, 2013

The tag line for Spreadsheets in the iTunes App Store reads: “Quantified Self Tracking for Couples to Improve Intimacy”. It is an absolutely brilliant app that can do exactly what it advertises, so long as you use it correctly.

Most people who are bad at sex suffer from two main problems: they are too uptight to allow it to be fun, and they are too scared to have a conversation about it. Used properly, this app is a way to overcome both of these problems.

The basic idea behind the app is very simple: it makes use of the iPhone’s microphone and accelerometer to detect sound levels and movements during sex. You tap the app when you start, you tap the app when you’re done, and it gives you statistics.

Although it doesn’t actually record your sessions, it gathers data on your average and peak thrusts per minute, average thrusts per session, average and peak decibel levels per session, and total duration. Over time, if you use it consistently, it can tell you the average number of times you have sex per month, and various records you have achieved, such as the most number of times in a 24-hour period or the most number of days in a row.

The app doesn’t measure the things that matter when it comes to being good in bed. The decibel-meter cannot distinguish between a partner who moans in ecstasy and one who yells “touch-down”! The accelerometer can’t measure those slow, deep, grinding, circular movements that many consider critical when correctly timed.

But, to be fair to the app’s designers and marketing department, it doesn’t claim to measure how good a person is in bed.

‘The app doesn’t measure the things that matter when it comes to being good in bed. The decibel-meter cannot distinguish between a partner who moans in ecstasy and one who yells “touch-down”!’

Spreadsheets for iPhone, $2.99 on the App Store.

This is worth stating a second time, because a number of reviewers have gotten this wrong: the app does not claim to measure how good you are in bed. I’m honestly amazed at the amount of up-tight puffery this app has generated in the media. One reviewer snarkily commented that if you need an app to tell you if you are good in bed, then you probably aren’t. Another reviewer pooh-poohs the entire idea of bringing technology into the bedroom, saying that if you want to be good in bed you should merely “be present with your partner”.

These reviewers have completely missed the point, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had never used the app. They should: they seem like exactly the types who need it.

You see, the point of the app is to stimulate fun, frank, and playful conversation between two people. You can laugh together as you decide the best place to put the iPhone when you record your shenanigans. You can start up a serious conversation about whether each of you prefers a high number of low number of thrusts-per-minute, and why.

You can playfully test out different positions to see whether the app can handle them. You can laugh together as you try to figure out how to hold or balance the iPhone when you are having sex standing up.

From a technical standpoint, the app does have a number of limitations. Because you have to tell it when to start recording, it can be inconvenient for recording very spontaneous sessions. There is no good place to put it if you are on a counter top or slamming each other against the wall of the closet – although the Apple Store does sell armbands for your iPhone if you want to get really creative.

If you spend a great deal of time getting from one position into another, you might be prompted with an “Are you finished?” pop-up, which can be annoying. Also, when the iPhone is laying flat on the bed, the accelerometer is more sensitive to horizontal movements than vertical movements.

Thus, you will get better measurements if you’re using the butterfly or standard missionary positions, where the movement is mainly horizontal, than for example the “seated scissor” or “reverse cowgirl”, which primarily involve vertical thrusting.

But the reality is, all of these things are part of the fun. The best way to use this app is to test these things out, and laugh with your partner as the two of you find out what works and what doesn’t work.

When you use the app correctly, it stimulates communication that is both joyful and truthful. It makes sex more playful, less anxious, and provides an easy outlet for asking questions and getting to know what your partner likes and dislikes.

In other words, it can improve intimacy. As advertised.