App Tells You How Many Times You Check Your Phone

It’s called Moment, and it’s:

an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.

I’m not going that far. But it’s interesting to see how many times I check my phone. (For the record: less than the average but still a lot.)

Apparently boredom is actually good for creativity, which makes sense—I rarely come up with a novel solution to a problem while actively thinking about it. It all happens in the magic of the subconscious.

And the research backs this up:

“You come up with really great stuff when you don’t have that easy lazy junk food diet of the phone to scroll all the time,” says Sandi Mann.

Mann’s research finds that idle minds lead to reflective, often creative thoughts (we discuss her projects in depth in this week’s show). Minds need to wander to reach their full potential.

Heard about it from the New Tech City podcast, which cites the following statistics:

58% of American adults have a smartphone today. The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67% of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated. 44% of Americans have slept with their phone next to their beds.

Listen to the episode to find out more about the research, including a really cool experiment that had its subjects read the phone book.

When Free Data Ain’t Free

Wired has a smart take on an idea that sounds good at first: unlimited data usage on your phone for certain apps.

T-Mobile has announced plans that allow access to Twitter, Instagram, and others for free. (Well, included with your monthly charges.)

Virgin Mobile has plans with unlimited access to just Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest for a flat monthly fee.

But like net neutrality, this bundling/unbundling (depending on how you look at it) could stifle innovation:

In [Fred] Wilson’s comparison, zero rating makes apps more like TV by effectively turning specific services into channels. Under the Sprint deal, you get the Facebook channel, the Twitter channel, and so on. To get the full-on open internet—which we used to simply call the internet—you must pay more. For Wilson, this amounts to a kind of front-end discrimination analogous to efforts to undermine net neutrality on the back-end. Some apps or services get preferential treatment, while others are left to wither through lack of equal access.

As Wilson explains, this makes zero rating an existential threat to what he sees as a period of more egalitarian access that allowed the internet economy to flourish. “There was a brief moment in the tech market from 1995 to now where anyone could simply attach a server to the internet and be in business,” Wilson writes in response to a commenter. “That moment is coming to an end.”

Read:
Free Mobile Data Plans Are Going to Crush the Startup Economy {by marcus wohlsen; wired}.

“Green” Apps: A Contradiction in Terms

Apparently green apps {epa.gov} are a thing. They may help you find recycling locations in Chicago, set up a carpool, locate the closest farmers’ market, or allow you to calculate your carbon footprint.

But one thing these apps don’t factor into their calculations is the emissions created by people simply using said apps.

Psychology Today helpfully draws our attention to this contradiction:

For all the good intentions behind the green app explosion, there’s a big contradiction in their deployment: namely, increases in green app usage—the basis of a green mobile lifestyle—inevitably increase electricity usage. And no app can address the two main forces that sustain this contradiction: the number of consumers linked to broadband mobile and landline networks continues to grow at astounding rates; and with that growth, comes increasing dependency on conventional energy production to power mobile communication.

I don’t know why Psychology Today is picking on green apps. The vast amount of energy used by our devices to access data in the cloud has been well documented {tech pundit}:

Using a [tablet or smartphone] to watch an hour of video weekly consumes annually more electricity in the remote networks than two new refrigerators use in a year.

That’s the lead story, not green apps. We’ve witnessed an app and smartphone explosion {nielsen}—period—over the past several years. To call out green apps in particular is unfair, distracting, and irrelevant.

Awesome New iOS Podcast App

I’ve never been fully satisfied with a podcast app for my iPhone. Downcast was good, but lacked fine-tuned details and control.

Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper) has a new app out and it’s great. It has a cool feature that shortens silence breaks to speed up listening time without making Ira Glass sound like a chipmunk. A beautiful interface. Podcast-by-podcast settings. More.

Try out Overcast—it’s $free ($4.99 to unlock all features).

Via {daring fireball}.

The Lost &… Never Lost

Tile is a little fob that communicates its location with an iPhone to help you remember where you put your stuff.

Just attach it to your keys or bag or something and it remembers where you put it last. If you’re within 100 feet or so, you can narrow it down to that pile of clothes and pull your wallet out from underneath.

I’m thinking I’d get one and just leave it in my car and it would always remember where I park. (Yes, that’s a different spot every day.)

My two concerns are:

  • What when/if their cloud system gets hacked and
  • It only lasts a year. Yes they recycle, but yes the “introductory” price is $18. I don’t want to get locked into an annual expense just because I can’t keep track of my stuff correctly.

Via {daring fireball}.