Running out of stuff to quantify? Never fear! A new app launching today on Android promises to quantify your device use — by serving up a usage timeline right to your lockscreen so you can be horrified at how many times you’ve unlock your phone today, or by the amount of life-minutes you’ve squandered on Facebook.
ZeroDesktop, the startup behind the QualityTime app, has previously made an app for parents to manage their kids’ device usage, called DinnerTime, as well as crowdfunding an Android computer for families called the MiiPC.
President and co-founder, Richard Sah, says the team sees two main markets for QualityTime: people who are worried about over-using their devices, and also those who are just curious, and want to track their app usage.
The team’s earlier kids-focused app apparently sparked the idea for QualityTime — after they got feedback from adults asking for something similar to “self help” themselves. And presumably to contribute to domestic harmony.
“We found that there were adults using [DinnerTime] (i.e. partners using it on each other, friends using it on each other),” Sah tells TechCrunch. “We know that adults can also experience excessive app usage addiction — but observing parents and friends using it to help each other really raised our interest in this area.”
QualityTime lets users set custom usage alerts to help manage how long they spend on their device and/or particular apps. It can even be set up to lock the screen for set periods of time. Which might help nix arguments between couples about device usage at bedtime, for example.
The app will also integrate with IFTTT — functionality that’s coming later this month. So, for instance, excessive Facebooking could be set up to turn your Philips Hue lightbulbs deep blue. Or more than 500 unlocks in a day could result in an auto dial to your significant other for a pre-agreed ear-bashing. Or add a shame note to your Google Calendar.
Whether over reliance on tech is best managed by reliance on more tech to provide background warnings/notifications is up for debate. But at this point in the digital evolution strata it’s apps all the way down.
Indeed, QualityTime itself follows in the phone-usage quantifying footsteps of BreakFree, Checky, Moment to name three similar services. That’s presumably a sign of something. Growing concern about app addiction is one possibility. Nothing new under the app sun, with major app stores having passed the one million apps mark, is another. And/or the speed with which a digital idea can proliferate and be cloned or tweaked is yet a third.
“There is a big appetite for this kind of product, as mobile/app addiction is such a widespread problem,” says Sah. “The difference [between QualityTime and rival apps] is that ZeroDesktop is leveraging its cloud-based solution expertise to create a family of products in this arena.
“We’ve accumulated data based on user feedback following the launch of the DinnerTime Plus app, and used this to build on the app development for QualityTime, ensuring that the user experience is the priority. ZeroDesktop want to provide not just a single app, but holistic solutions – a family of products and tools for various ages.”
For a little general context on app usage, a recent year-end report from app analytics firm Flurry found overall app usage grew by 76% in 2014. Top app categories included Shopping, Utilities & Productivity, and Messaging — which all recorded triple-digit growth in the past year.
The QualityTime Android app is free to use, and saves usage data for up to two weeks six months. An in-app purchase option will be coming in future so users who are willing to shell out some money can save usage data for longer than six months.
An iOS version of QualityTime is also planned — although, given Apple’s control over its ecosystem — it’s clearly not going to be able to take over the lock screen or freeze device usage. So expect some kind of app analytics dashboard that can send you a few custom notifications.