Ask Ida Tin what her goal is, and she struggles to come up with just one. The top of the App Store’s health and fitness section would be nice, she says (she’s only got to third place before) — or maybe helping every woman on the planet track their reproductive health.
It sounds ambitious, but her female reproductive health app Clue has quickly spread around the world from its launch in Berlin, and now has over 2.5 million active users. Even Apple came to her for help with its own software.
Clue is a period tracking app that uses data inputted by the user to give insight into their cycle. Women input information about their mood, sexual activity, pain, and bleeding, as well as other things. The app uses that to work out their cycle and give them information about it.
The Clue app has a modern design, and users of the app that Business Insider talked to explained that its colourful, almost playful, nature is a reason why they keep using it. “People like that it’s not pink or overly girly,” Tin said. “It’s not patronising.”
That’s in contrast to the appearance of apps like Period Diary, Clue’s biggest competitor in the App Store:
Tin emphasises that users can share their data with the app’s servers, or they can keep it to themselves, storing it offline. It can also be synchronised with Apple’s HealthKit platform, which stores health data from lots of different apps.
iPhones can track things like steps and calories burned, but when HealthKit launched, iPhones had no support for female reproductive health. Fusion said that “Apple has a lady problem,” and Jezebel wrote that “Apple’s new health tracking app forgets that periods exist.”
“Maybe they just forgot,” Tin says of Apple’s decision to release a health tracking app without any period tracking. However, she says that after Apple realised its mistake, it immediately set about trying to make it right. Tin says Clue worked with Apple to help it develop its own period tracking software — essentially creating a competitor to her own app.
“I felt we had a really constructive dialogue with them, helping them figure out what the core things that should go in are,” Tin says. “We had an ongoing conversation about what should be there. I felt that they listened.”
Apple eventually released an updated health app in June that featured full support for period tracking and female reproductive health. Users could manually add their periods and sexual activity, and Clue’s data synced with the app. Clue suddenly had a major new competitor, but it also had a new platform for women to examine their data on.
Clue is also available for women to install on their Apple Watch. Right now that’s a pretty niche feature for an app to have, but Tin says that the Apple Watch is a good way for women to get notifications from the app.
She does recognise, however, that the Apple Watch is still a limited platform: “I think our product is very much the first generation MVP (minimum viable product), I think we can probably do a better job. But I do think it’s interesting.”
Another thing that Clue is trying out is a series of partnerships with universities and medical institutions. It’s working with Stanford University, Columbia University, the University of Washington, and the University of Oxford to provide data for studies. “What they get excited about is having a data set which is so large compared to what clinical studies were before,” Tin says.
Clue is clearly out to help women and doctors learn more about female reproductive health, but if it wants to spread around the world, it needs to start making money. Right now the app is free, and Tin says that the company doesn’t know how it’s going to monetise. However, she does know how she doesn’t want to do it: selling user data or introducing ads to the app.
“There are probably many more things that we could do [to make money],” Tin said. “But we are taking our time now to grow and make little experiments with monetisation.” She suggested that one way Clue could make money would be charging for more in-depth data-driven information or detailed health advice.
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