TORONTO - Smartphone users feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of communications and devices vying for their time can turn to new apps to help them take a break and concentrate on other things.
More than 70 per cent of consumers in the United States own a smartphone and the typical adult spends about 90 minutes a day on their device, an increase of 30 per cent since last year, according to global information and measurements company Nielsen.
But new apps aim to make users aware of how much time they spend on their smartphones and to help them limit it.
Offtime, a new app for Android-compatible phones, lets users unplug from their devices without missing anything important.
"We all love our digital devices. But every once in a while we want to take time off, which can be hard when everyone is so connected and you feel as though you're snubbing people or missing out," said Michael Dettbarn, co-founder of the Berlin, Germany-based Offtime.
The app tracks how much people use their device and which apps are most time consuming. It also lets users decide how long they would like to stay unplugged, which contacts and apps they want to remain active while all others are temporarily blocked. It also lists events missed during the break period.
"People are starting to notice they check their mobile devices all the time, not because they need to, but more out of habit. We want to help people become more aware of that," Dettbarn said.
Another app called Checky, created by San Francisco-based Calm.com, tells users how often they check their smartphones each day. The app is free and available worldwide for iOS and Android.
In addition to tracking usage, Moment, an app for iOS devices, enables iPhone users to set daily time limits and to receive reminders if they go over. The app, from the Pittsburgh-based Moment, costs US$4.99 (S$6.37) and is also available worldwide.
Although technology is a good thing, Offtime's Dettbarn said people need to learn how to manage it.
"Every time a new or revolutionary technology comes out, there is fear about what it will do to society. But the next generations solve the problems and see the benefits," he noted.
"Soon we will have screens all around us, not just on our mobile devices, but also on the wall or on our wrists. It's not going to be tolerable to be distracted all the time, so we will need to come up with solutions," Dettbarn added.