Why We Built Unhook (and What Apple/Google Has Wrong About Habits)

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As apps become habits, they can become addictions for many who have a hard time limiting their use.

The two titans in the mobile space, Apple and Google, have both realized this difficulty and have released features for users to better understand and control their mobile use. Apple’s solution, Screen Time, and Google’s solution, Digital Well-being, both visualize the apps that are used most and allow users to set daily time limits to curb usage.

 

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Screen Time feature (left) vs Digital Well-being feature (right) (Courtesy of The Verge)

Although it’s commendable that both companies focused efforts on the problem, we believe that it’s not nearly enough. More importantly, they don’t consider the science behind habit forming products.

It’s hard to end habits through self control

Both features allow users to set a daily time limit for a desired app. When the user reaches their limit for the day, a screen is overlaid on their app reminding them to curb their usage.

Reminding a user they should do less of something isn’t enough. Over time, users become immune to the warnings and dismissing it becomes muscle memory.

Its easier to end a habit by replacing it with another

As principles of habit forming teach us, one of the best ways to end a habit is to replace it with another habit altogether. Don’t just warn, give the user something else to do. That’s why we built Unhook.

 

Introducing Unhook

Our small team came together to build Unhook – an app for Android that visualizes app usage, sets time limits, and asks user to take a 2 minute walk if they’ve reached their limits. By replacing the habitual nature of spending time on our mobile phones with that of light physical activity, we’re replacing a bad habit with a good one.

We’re just getting started and are in a closed beta gathering feedback.

Visit our website, http://www.unhook.app, to learn more and to sign up as an early tester.

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