Being the perfect helper person is hard. At Military.com we try oh, so hard to give you every single drop of information you need to make it in military life. But there is so much out there. And making it accessible and user friendly for every single person is a real challenge.
That’s why I was so happy that the folks at the National Military Family Association have gone to the trouble of creating the MyMilitaryLife app. Originally rolled-out last fall, the app is organized into “life paths” for easy navigation, allowing users to pick the area in which they need help and go through a series of bullet points on that subject.
For example, let’s say you are getting ready for a move. You would select the “moving” life path and then answer a series of simple questions regarding your needs (pets? special needs family member? moving overseas?). The app then generates a list of common questions you might have about PCSing -- everything from “how do we set up our military move?” to “should we live on or off the installation?”
Tapping one of those questions will reveal a subset of categories with all the details you need to consider and information you need to have on how a military move works. Even I learned something while playing with it. Who knew you could file an inconvenience claim if the movers can’t deliver your belongings? That information would’ve been helpful about three years ago. Bonus: the app allows me to share that tidbit via Twitter, Facebook or Email right from the article.
The app features 10 life path options full of that kind of information. While all of them are packed with helpful tips, the two I found the most useful are “Moving” and “The Basics,” which is jammed with the nitty gritty of military life that you have to learn the hard ways after becoming a military spouse. I like the idea of skipping the hard way and reading through this app instead.
But it’s not without its faults, either. In my original review I complained that the information it offers is very general. While a great deal of that has been updated to allow you to narrow down the results (don't have kids? The app won't show you anything about kids. Have pets? The app will include pet details) there is still more they could provide specific to service.
Another issue is the app’s tendency to refer you out of the app and to a website for additional details. For example, a page in “Spouse Employment” refers you off app to the Military Spouse Employment Partnership website – which is nearly impossible to use on a small mobile device such as an iPhone.
The app does contain a workaround for this problem, said Michelle Joyner, the director of communications at NMFA. Users can save any given page in the app to their "favorites" list for easy access later. All of the content of the app -- including the favorites button -- can then be accessed on MyMilitaryLife.org, where you can revisit that page and the link in your normal browser.
If the usefulness of the information included with the app hasn't sold you on its value yet, there is more to come. Joiner said by the end of the year they plan to roll-out a feature that will include recommended programs around and on individual posts and bases -- and allow users to review and rate them. If this means that the next time we move I won't have to query the entire internet in search of the perfect local dentist, I'm on board.
They also plan to roll-out a version optimized for tablets. The current app is aimed at iPhone and Android phone users.