A good diabetes management app takes a lot of guesswork out of calculating insulin doses and helps keep glucose curves stable. But what’s the best app for you and your child with type 1 diabetes?
We’re about to take an in-depth look at two popular diabetes management app options that are guaranteed to help determine your final choice.
Who Are Diabetes Management Apps For?
While most diabetes management apps are developed with T1D in mind, anyone who wants more stable daily glucose curves can use them. In fact, they’re a great tool for people who want to avoid developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
But for the parents of children with T1D, keeping tabs on how your older child manages insulin therapy and diet, or teaching your younger child the ins and outs of good diabetes management at a pace they can handle, means a reliable diabetes management app is essential.
mySugr vs Glucose Buddy
Two popular diabetes management apps are mySugr and Glucose Buddy. Both provide mobile apps for iOS and Android that collect and decipher a range of diabetes-related data. Even so, they’re not very similar.
The basic feature of any diabetes management app is the same – insights relating to glucose curves based on personal manually inputted or Bluetooth/wireless data. Which to be honest, is exactly what you get from the average CGM app.
It’s the additional features that make PWD turn to diabetes management apps rather than rely on CGM app data.
If you use an Accu-Chek finger-stick device to measure blood glucose, mySugr should be high on your list of diabetes management apps. Accu-Chek devices are produced by Roche Diabetes Care, and mySugr is part of this global giant.
Like our own app, Gluroo, mySugr has been created by people with diabetes for people with diabetes. With over 5 million users across the globe, it’s a very popular choice. This might also be because Accu-Chek is one of the top blood glucose monitor brands in the world.
If you don’t use Accu-Chek, all data will need to be tapped into the app manually and regularly. That can be a big ask for busy kids with T1D.
- mySugr Dashboard
You can remove or add features on the mySugr homescreen. So, for younger children with T1D, it’s easy to limit the amount of information they see at any one time.
Learn more about setting up the mySugr app here.
- Tags and Photos
One child-friendly aspect of the mySugr diabetes management app is its tag feature. Select from around 50 customizable icons that describe different situations and emotions before, during or after meals. For example, select the ‘feeling chilled’ tag along with a needle change tag, or the ‘feeling hypo’ tag along with a food tag.
You can even add photos of your meals…as long as you use the pro version of the app.
- mySugr Calculations
The Bolus Calculator calculates the dose of insulin or carbs you need to get back in range. These calculations depend on capillary blood glucose measurements which can be few and far between compared to CGMs.
- mySugr Reports
While this app doesn’t offer much in the way of data sharing (something that’s vital for the parents of children with T1D), you can print off reports for health professionals.
- Estimated HbA1c
- Average weekly blood glucose
- Standard weekly deviation (swing factor/time out of range)
- Weekly activity time
Reports are available for free in CSV form, but you need the pro version to get PDF and Excel reports.
- mySugr Reminders and Challenges
If not using an Accu-Chek device, you can opt for 15-minute, 30-minute, 1-hour, 2-hour, and 3-hour data input/test reminders. It’s perfectly possible to use mySugr with a CGM – as long as you’re prepared to type in enough results to provide accurate calculations and analysis.
You are also given challenges along the way. Like the no sugar for a day challenge, regular logging, being active, and staying within range. Each item earns points and makes your personal monster respond.
The personal monster is a very child-friendly addition to this diabetes management app. It reacts to achieved goals and pops up at random moments to offer encouragement and friendly nudges, as well as reminders and alerts.
The Glucose Buddy diabetes management app was launched in 2011 and is used by over 30,000 PWD (primarily Americans). The product of mobile health company Azumio, Glucose Buddy is the highest-priced option available.
- Glucose Buddy Dashboard
The home screen is simple but not very attractive. At a single glance, you can view a variety of items. There’s no glucose curve on the main screen – for that, you need to go to a different page.
Track blood glucose, CGM data, medication, insulin, meals and carbs, steps, exercise, weight, HbA1c, blood pressure, and even ketones from the dashboard. Much of this data needs to be added manually, but integration with Dexcom and Fitbit means you don’t need to spend as much time entering data as you do with mySugr.
- Glucose Buddy Analytics
As the Glucose Buddy app integrates with recent Dexcom CGMs, analysis can be very reliable. Azumio also produces an integrated blood glucose monitoring device, but you need to carry out multiple finger-stick tests to get that crucial data. The ideal situation would be to pair a Dexcom CGM and use the integrated Glucose Buddy Smart Meter from time to time.
One top feature of this diabetes management app is Meal IQ. Meal IQ learns about how certain foods affect users’ blood glucose levels and grades meals accordingly. In short, artificial intelligence learns how a combination of food type, eating time and quantity can be adjusted to smooth out the glucose curve. This learning also requires plenty of data, and not all children will want to spend time adding it.
The food recognition feature works well alongside the option to photograph meals and add them to your data. Processed food barcodes can also be scanned.
- Glucose Buddy Calculations
You’ll get all the usual calculations with Glucose Buddy, including carbs, time in range and so on. However, it doesn’t include a bolus calculator – something you get with mySugr.
- Glucose Buddy Reports
Like mySugr, there’s no data-sharing option. Reports can be printed in PDF format with paid (premium) subscriptions.
- Reminders and Challenges
Select reminders for daily blood tests, insulin boluses, and medication. For people with T2D diabetes who administer weekly injections, there’s a problem. You only get 2 options – daily reminders or no reminders.
There are no challenges or encouragements for app users. This is a strait-laced, low-fun app that isn’t child-friendly. However, parents might appreciate the in-app 12-week education program composed of short lessons that teach good diabetes management while navigating the app.
An additional feature for paid subscriptions is the personal coach – there’s no mention of how often you can chat with this human contact point, and it in no way replaces a doctor, but it’s a nice feature that might explain the high app prices.
The mySugr diabetes management app is ideal for PWDs who check blood sugar levels using an Accu-Chek finger-stick system. Not only will the pro version of the app then cost you nothing, but data from your Accu-Chek device will be automatically transmitted.
Integration is also possible for the NovoPen 6 and NovoPen Echo Plus.
Finally, mySugr integrates with Apple Health and Google Fit apps.
Here’s where Glucose Buddy wins this race. While mySugr only integrates with specific Accu-Chek devices, Glucose Buddy integrates with:
- Dexcom G5/G6
- Apple Health
- Google Fit
- Contour One Next
- Glucose Buddy Smart Meter
The additional perks of FitBit integration mean a huge amount of data can be gathered with more accurate calculations and better-individualized support as a result.
Here’s the major difference between the mySugr and Glucose Buddy diabetes management apps.
The free version of mySugr includes printable reports (CSV format only), but you won’t be able to add photos, get reminders, calculate boluses or pump basal rates, or enjoy many of the motivational challenges that increase this app’s child-friendliness.
However, Accu-Chek users (check the website to see which models apply) get the pro version with all added extras for free. To upgrade from the free version without an eligible Accu-Chek device, prices are (at the time of writing) $42.99 per year.
Although there’s a free version of Glucose Buddy available, it’s little more than a tracking device with very few features. This free version is packed with ads.
Premium prices are based on whether you buy a Glucose Buddy finger-prick device and test strips or not.
- Without the smart glucose meter, lancing devices, lancets and test strips: $19.99 per month
- With the meter, lancing devices, lancets and 50 test strips: $29.99 per month
- With the meter, lancing devices, lancets and unlimited test strips: $59.99 per month
All of the above include the personal coaching feature, performance reports and HbA1c calculator. The free version does not.
Ratings & User Experience
We’ve looked at user reviews from various sources, including forums and social media groups dedicated to T1D management.
With over 4 million mySugr users, this app must be doing something right. Even with its low level of integration, it has picked up a loyal following. When users publicly complain about the occasional bug, Roche is very quick with a response.
Some people aren’t too happy about the monster feature; others appreciate its ‘slight silliness’ – a child with T1D should find this app engaging. However, the lack of integration is a real problem with many potential users.
Research carried out last year scored mySugr app highest on the Mobile App Rating Scale for App Quality and App Subjective Quality compared to 10 other apps (Glucose Buddy, Diabetes:M, BeatO Smart Diabetes Management, Blood Glucose Tracker, Health2Sync Diabetes Care, OneTouch Reveal, Diabetes Diary, Diabetes Forum, Intellin Diabetes Management and Diabetes Connect). The mySugr app was judged to be good for engagement, high in functionality, attractive in terms of aesthetics and with strong information features.
Glucose Buddy has a mix of positive and not-so-positive reviews. One common review is there is very little feedback from Azumio – user complaints are left unanswered.
Common reported problems are bugs, the huge number of ads on the free version of the app, and the fact that you need to tap ‘save’ for every entry or that data will be lost. The app has been described as tedious and deficient by different users. At the same time, many appreciate the Dexcom and Fitbit integration, although there seem to be a few bugs when pairing these devices.
During the 2022 comparison study mentioned above, Glucose Buddy was found to be average for engagement, moderate in functionality, normal in terms of aesthetics and with strong information features.
Of the two, mySugr is definitely the better choice for children with T1D (and all Accu-Chek users). It requires a lot of manual input, but this isn’t necessarily a bad call. The more a child taps in that information, the more familiar he or she will become with good diabetes management.
The app has a sense of humor that most children enjoy. Unfortunately, you need the paid version to get access to all the motivational challenges, and there’s no way to share data between devices.
Glucose Buddy is the better option for (active) adults with T1D who use Dexcom CGMs. Integration with Fitbit devices means there’s a lot of potential data to observe. This is a ‘grown-up’ version of a diabetes management app and is definitely not recommended for children. It might tick the boxes for older teenagers, but the lack of data sharing is a problem.
Here’s the mySugr vs Glucose Buddy app comparison in a nutshell:
|In-app data sharing
|– Some Accu-Chek devices
– NovoPen 6/NovoPen Echo Plus
– Apple Health
– Google Fit
|– Dexcom G5/G6
– Apple Health
– Google Fit
– Contour One Next
– Glucose Buddy Smart Meter
|– Insulin bolus
– Time in range
|– HbA1c (paid)
– Meal IQ
– Time in range
|Blogs and articles
|Personal coach (paid)
12-week education program
|$42.99 per year
|Without smart glucose meter, lancing devices, lancets and test strips: $19.99 per month
Meter, lancing device, lancets, 50 test strips: $29.99 per month
Meter, lancing device, lancets, unlimited test strips: $59.99 per month
No data sharing options, extremely limited integrations and premium version costs mean neither app completely suits parents of children with T1D. Being aware of glucose level changes at all times – especially when children are at school or camp – can be a game changer. Data sharing allows parent(s) and child(ren) to relax.
So, we invite you to check out Gluroo. Gluroo was built with families and children in mind and its main goal is to make diabetes management simpler for everyone involved. The app is entirely free, has multiple integrations, a unique interface that encourages engagement, and its best feature which is the option to share data across multiple devices so parents are always in the loop regarding their children’s diabetes.
You can download Gluroo for free below. It’s available for both iOS and Android.