Background: Smartphone applications (“apps”) offer a number of possibilities for health promotion activities. However, young
people may also be exposed to apps with incorrect or poor quality information, since, like the Internet, apps are mostly unregulated.
Little is known about the quality of alcohol-related apps or what influence they may have on young people’s behavior.
Objective: To critically review popular alcohol-related smartphone apps and to explore young people’s opinions of these apps,
their acceptability, and use for alcohol-related health promotion.
Methods: First, a content analysis of 500 smartphone apps available via Apple iTunes and Android Google Play stores was
conducted. Second, all available blood alcohol concentration (BAC) apps were tested against four individual case profiles of
known BAC from a previous study. Third, two focus group discussions explored how young people use alcohol-related apps,
particularly BAC apps.
Results: 384 apps were included; 50% (192) were entertainment apps, 39% (148) were BAC apps, and 11% (44) were health
promotion and/or stop drinking–related apps. When testing the BAC apps, there was wide variation in results, with apps tending
to overestimate BAC scores compared with recorded scores. Participants were skeptical of the accuracy of BAC apps, and there
was an overall concern that these apps would be used as a form of entertainment, further encouraging young people to drink,
rather than reduce their drinking and risk taking.
Conclusions: The majority of popular alcohol-related apps encouraged alcohol consumption. Apps estimating blood alcohol
concentration were widely available but were highly unreliable. Health departments and prominent health organizations need to
endorse alcohol smartphone apps