Downloading an app to fight app addiction is ironic. But smartphone addiction is a growing problem as the amount of time people in US spend on Mobile Phone is increasing at an alarming rate and almost 92% of the time we spend on our phone is on apps like Facebook and other Social Media platforms.
In an era where there is an app for every possible purpose, there is a category that has been gaining popularity: apps that allow you to unplug from using your smartphone and other apps We reviewed several such app blockers and find people use them to spend less time on their phones and generally, increase productivity.
If you happen to sink an inordinate amount of time on your smartphone, we have shortlisted 5 applications that help keep you focused.
Price: $2.99 on iOS, Free with in-app purchases on Android
Offtime tracks device usage and helps you to monitor your usage habits. If you find yourself constantly distracted by a particular application, you can set restrictions to access it. For Android users, it also allows you to block calls, texts and notifications that may disturb you for a chosen period of time and choose the selected people who can still get through to you during your downtime. If you do better as part of a group invite your friends to a shared Offtime session.
Price: Free, Only available on iOS
Similar to Offtime, Moment automatically tracks your iPhone and iPad usage, helps you create daily limits on phone usage and sends you reminders when you approach those limits. The overall goal of Moment is not to get you to put down your phone completely but to create a healthy balance in your life, as such it does not have the feature of blocking applications.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases on both Android and iOS
Launched : 2015
What’s unique about Flipd is its two different tracking modes. You can refrain from using your phone using a gamified “casual lock” setting that requires self-control on your part, or a “full lock” setting that allows you to lock yourself out of your phone and hide your applications. There will still be access to some basic functions such as calls and texts but your social media applications will stay hidden until the timer runs out.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases on Android only
AppDetox helps you understand your phone usage habits and set different perimeters in terms of how you use them. It offers the features to limit your number of application launches, usage time and restrict accessibility according to your set time range. Afraid of breaking your own rules? You have the option of setting a password to protect your rules with a PIN number as well. Though this requires some form of self control as well, an alternative solution is to ask a friend to set your password without telling you what it is.
Price: Free for trial period, or sign up for their monthly plan at $6.99/month or yearly plan at $2.42/month, available on Android, iOS, Windows and MacBook
Through the use of a VPN profile, Freedom helps you block select applications and websites for up to 8 hours. It also features scheduling of recurring sessions on your devices to build productive habits. Similar to AppDetox, it allows you to enter locked modes to prevent you from modifying your Freedom sessions.
We have also reviewed reams of user feedback on these applications and many users commented that they can bypass the app restrictions by simply deleting it. As such, these applications do not offer an absolute solution to manage your phone addiction and they are most suited to users who are determined to improve their productivity and exercise some self control.
In light of this, it may be more useful to work on users’ motivations towards using their phone excessively instead of just depending on these applications, but using them is definitely a start to a more phone-free lifestyle.
Among the list of blocker apps, our favorite is Freedom as it is easy to use, works as described, available across both mobile and desktop platforms and fulfills its purpose of preventing distractions by time-wasting apps and websites.
Perpetual was featured in an advertisement for a financial services company where Perpetual founder Amish shares his passion for technology and entrepreneurship.
In this four-part series, you will learn about Perpetual’s motivations, approach to innovation and education and the experience of becoming an entrepreneur.
“I am exploring technologies that are out there and I am trying to create value.”
On Rapid Innovation
“I can think of an idea in the morning, build it in the day, and then ship it at night.”
“Education is one thing that no one can take away from you.”
“To get to the next level, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.”
News is a key driver of fluctuation of financial markets, for example when Donald Trump was elected as president of the United States, the markets swayed and many a fortune were made and lost. News is also a vehicle for reporting fundamental company information like M&A activity, a CEO or key officer leaving a company or an important financial research finding or analyst rating.
For financial professionals, having news accessible to them at their trading terminal is critical: news that is fast and in-tune with various wire services, that can be searched easily to find that nugget of information about a topic, and that is easily readable among the tens of windows across multiple screens. This is even more true in this age where humans are racing against machines to seek competitive actionable information
Achieving such mission-critical capability in the past required installed desktop applications with a Windows SDK and advanced technologies based on C++ and others close to machine hardware. However with the rise of the consumer internet and several realtime apps and technologies, similar SLA’s are achievable with modern technology stack. On a financial user’s desktop, the last mile is the installed application. Till date, various financial information providers and organizations have resorted to building custom applications in bespoke technology stacks compatible with their other legacy applications and desktop IT infrastructure.
OpenFin, a provider of HTML5 runtime technology for the financial industry, is leading the charge in this arena. Perpetual is a New York City based innovation lab that provides advanced User Experience Design and Full-Stack Development expertise derived from years in the financial information services industry. The Perpetual team is proud to bring you Beacon, a scrolling news app leveraging the OpenFin framework.
This version of Beacon offers realtime scrolling news from multiple sources, with the ability to search news, select news sources and bookmark articles for later reading. Upcoming versions will have watchlists, alerts, trending news and lots more.
You can see the full set of features currently available on Beacon here.
You can download the Beacon Desktop Application here.
OpenFin is used as the container for the app. The framework allows the application to open and run in its own desktop application and windows, and pages launched from the main application are opened in their own child windows. OpenFin also controls the initial configuration for the application, including window size, the app icon on the dock, desktop, and window, and how the application behaves when opened.
The application front-end is built on top of Bootstrap’s grid. This allows the application to easily resize to fit the user’s needs. The rest of the styling is done with custom css, and is designed to fit the needs of a user with a finance background.
The bookmark feature allows users to save articles for future reference. These bookmarked articles are stored in the Open Fin app’s HTML5 local storage. This allows the Beacon app to retain the data across browser sessions. Since the app is run on the OpenFin framework, the local storage is not affected by deleting the cache on the user’s actual browser. The only way the storage is wiped is if the user uninstalls the Beacon application. Local Storage is also used to store NewsAPI’s source list, which saves the application some AJAX calls when it is opened after the first load.
The news articles seen on Beacon are provided by the NewsAPI service. The Beacon App real-time model is currently based on a configurable polling mechanism, with a pub-sub mechanism under consideration. Since news is derived from different sources, some of which can only be sorted by top articles, some new articles will occasionally appear further down in the visible list of articles. However it is clear which articles are new by the ‘new article highlight’ that is applied to such articles, so they can be brought to a user’s attention.
One of the limitations of the current app is the lack of direct relevance of content to financial news, as well as the ability to filter content more accurately for the financial professional audience. Accordingly, one of the next steps for Beacon is to integrate with CityFalcon’s API for financial news. CityFalcon will allow the app to display news about specific companies that a user chooses. It will also allow users to categorize news and rate it on importance. The user will be allowed to keep a watchlist of companies so that they are up to date on financial news for companies in their portfolio.
Download the latest version of the Beacon application here.