There’s a reason I look for the export function, and common formats between services before I dive in to use them.
Many services these days work with your data in the cloud. Data is saved on corporate servers (the cloud) and that company becomes the gatekeeper of your data. Of course everything is easily accessible now, but what happens when the goals of the company change, or the company itself goes out of business?
Case in point is the Microsoft Band. One of the many wristwatch styled fitness trackers, the Band was angular, harsh, but loved by many (you can read my 2015 review of it here). It gathered the usual range of fitness data, generated a lot of graphs, and encouraged people to use Microsoft’s cloud services. And it’s being turned off at the end of May, The good news is that Microsoft does have an export function, and you can get your data out as a CSV file. Hopefully your replacement service will be able to import the data.
Allowing your data out of services in a usable format (or at least one easily transposed to another format) should be something that responsible apps and developers include from the start of the design process. To take one example, I use the smartphone app ‘Round‘ two or three times to keep track of my medication. The app can output the data of my medication, dosage, and time taken, to a spreadsheet and then export that to the likes of DropBox. I get the benefit of the app, but I can get my personal information out of it with ease.
Can you get your data out, or are you locked in with only the promise of a successful business model maintaining access to your data?