New York Times In an undated screenshot, the Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App on iOS. The app calculates the UV index for your location and tells you how quickly your skin will burn if exposed to the sun.

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Gadgets: Apps make it easy to time sun exposure

  • July 19, 2014 - 2:00 PM

apps make it easy

to time sun exposure

Probably at least once lately you have forgotten to put on sunscreen before you went outside, even though we all know the dangers. Your smartphone can come to the rescue, with sunshine prediction and advice apps.

Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App, $1 on iOS, calculates a lot of detailed information in real time about your sunburn risks. To start, you either let the app work out where you are or type a location into the “Time to Sunburn” section. Then you enter your skin type and whether you are wearing any sunscreen in the relevant boxes. The app calculates the UV index at that moment and tells you how quickly your skin will burn if exposed to the sun.

The app even tells you how you should dress to protect yourself from the sun and provides a suggestion for sunscreen strength. The “UV forecast” section shows a more detailed prediction of coming UV levels and has a map that is a little like the rain charts you see in TV weather forecasts, but this one shows damaging solar ray levels.

Wolfram’s no-nonsense displays are informative and fairly easy to read. But some may find that it offers too much information and potentially confusing.

If you are dedicated to tanning by the shore or even in a salon, you should definitely check out Go Tanning Tan Timer UV Index, which is free on Android. This is essentially a timer app dedicated to tanning, with a UV-level system to help you work out how long to expose your skin.

When you are basking in the rays, the app has two timer modes: One times your total exposure or reminds you to reapply sunscreen at intervals; the other reminds you to keep flipping over for even coverage. Go Tanning Tan Timer is neither the prettiest app nor the easiest to use, and its UV info is for the United States only for now, but it is easy to navigate.

On iOS, iTanSmart is a great alternative to Go Tanning and better organized. A single screen has all the information you need. At the top, you select whether you want to avoid sunburn or achieve some safe tanning. You also enter your skin type and the protection factor of your sunscreen. The app then looks up the UV levels for your location and works out safe exposure times.


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