Long gone are the days when you went to “meetings” for weight loss and stood on a scale having a worker announce your weight and gain or loss from the previous week. Now, weight loss programs have gone completely mobile. But how are they taking care of the accountability aspect? Before, the fear of others’ judgement may have been enough to get you to the gym, or to skip that second taco. But now, with the mobile revolution, how have they managed to hold people accountable and also empower them to do more? Most of the mobile apps rely on push notifications to encourage their users as well as facilitating an environment that helps users develop habits, whether it’s entering their workouts or consulting the app before making menu choices.

The power of mobile for weight loss programs is obvious. First, they’re extremely user-friendly, since many people are spending tons of time a day in mobile apps anyway. Secondly, they set users up for success. They are easily accessible, which means users can get information while shopping at the grocery store, while ordering at a restaurant or while at the gym. Teaching is the primary approach for many of the weight loss mobile apps since education is the key to enacting lifestyle changes. The secondary approach of these apps are simply developing good habits. If users gets into the habit of using the app, they are likely to consult it when trying to make a decision about their health.

Automatic integration with the desktop version of the site is also a big component of these weight loss apps. Users do not want to have to enter in their information more than once, so this sync is important. It is also a great practice for the app developers and its marketers, as this gives them insight into their consumers’ behaviors away from the app.

In that vein, let’s discuss the best weight loss apps and their tactics for reaching their user every day:

1. Gym-Pact: This app is very unique in that it eliminates the “excuses” that people give for not going to the gym. You are able to link your bank account with the app and each time you miss a workout, it automatically withdraws the amount you agreed to. Additionally, those that do not break their gym pacts are paid with the funds withdrawn from those who did break it. Though it’s not a monumental amount of money, it can add up, and it gives users incentives–to lose money or gain money–beyond just losing weight or getting in shape.

2. Weight Watchers: This is probably the most popular weight loss program on the planet, and the app is a great tool. You can photograph your meal and it will give you the points total. This takes out the guessing game of entering food information, which gets tricky, especially at restaurants.

3. Fooducate: This app allows you to scan the barcode of products you’re purchasing and get up front information about them. This is important for those of us who are incredibly confused by the ingredients list on most foods.

4. Thin-Cam: Similar to the Weight Watchers photography ability, the Thin Cam will analyze the food you capture and upload by food nutritionists. It will also give you feedback on appropriate portions. It’s kind of like having tiny experts in your pocket.

The data collected by these apps is virtually endless and can be used to entice relevant advertisers as well as make the user experience better. Most apps also incorporate a community aspect, mostly through forums and “friends,” which can help drive motivation and encouragement throughout the process. These communities are all housed online, so it’s possible for this information to be mined through social intelligence research to glean insights about making the apps and services more comprehensive.