The world is filled with billions of smartphones, and they have enhanced our lives in countless ways. But they have also been responsible for the creation of hundreds of millions of smartphone zombies: people so hypnotized by the screen in the palm of their hands that they experience the real world around them in a shambling, dream-like state.
Now available for iPhone, Moment is an iOS app that aims to wake people up from their smartphone fugue state by the power of awareness. Designed to be largely invisible, the app does just one thing: track how much time you spend every day on your iPhone, and warn you when you’re going overboard.
The way Moment works is simple. After installing it on your iPhone, Moment will begin tracking how much you use the device minute by minute. This can be done manually by tapping a button, but by design, Moment is meant to work invisibly, tracking your usage in the background without you having to do a thing.
And Moment will not only track how much you’re using your iPhone every day, it will allow you to set a time cap. As you tick your way through your time budget tweet by tweet, Moment will send you an occasional alert, revealing how much time you’ve spent on your iPhone so far and how much time you’ve got left.
According to creator Kevin Holesh, Moment was created after moving in with his high school sweetheart and discovering the two of them spent more time fixated with their iPhones than with each other. “Relaxing meant whipping out our iPhones and catching up on the latest happenings in social media,” he explains in a post on Medium “Her drug of choice is Instagram. Mine is Twitter. We stopped doing fun and productive things and chose the path of least resistance.”
The idea behind Moment, Holesh says, was not to “go smash my iPhone with a hammer” and “live in the woods,” but to find a balance between a connected life and a disconnected one that made sense for me. After using the app for a few months, the app has helped Holesh maintain awareness of how much time he is spending every day on the iPhone, when he could be doing other things, like taking his dogs for a walk, reading a book, or getting some exercise.
Although you can argue that the people most likely to use Moment are the ones who are least likely to actually need it (e.g. people with enough self-control to put their iPhones away anyway), what makes Moment so great is that it takes pains to address one of the biggest unsolved design problems in technology today: how do you design a gadget to enhance someone’s life without it taking over their life?
With a fresh onslaught of blinking, buzzing wearables like Android Wear and the forthcoming iWatch coming soon to a wrist near you, Moment can help you take stock of how always-on you really want to be before it’s too late. You can download it for free from the App Store here.