If you can't help glancing down at your smartphone every few seconds, a new app can.
BreakFree is an Android app developed by husband-and-wife duo Mrigaen and Nupur Kapadia to help individuals who are hooked to their smartphones 24/7 to break free of their addiction. The app works by tracking the amount of time you spend glued to your screen and reminds you when it's time to take a break. It is a smart analytic approach to taking back your control over addictive apps such as Facebook or Pinterest.
If BreakFree sees you've been spending too much time on one app, making too many calls or using your smartphone for over an hour, the app gives you a heads up that it's time to put the phone down. It also allows you to disable the Internet, reject incoming calls and send auto text messages at specific times of the day. For example, if you want to spend downtime with your family from 6 to 9 in the evening, you can set the app to disable your phone's Internet during that time.
The app can also calculate your addiction score based on how much time you spend on your smartphone and present you with detailed statistics so you can take the necessary steps to slow down on your smartphone use.
"People are becoming anti-social. Before phones, you were always thinking about conversations you could make with someone else. Now many people prefer their phone over conversations with humans," says Mrigaen Kapadia. "We want to make people realize that human company is better than phone company."
BreakFree is a free app, with a $1.99 premium version for those who want more detailed stats, such as a breakdown of how much time you spent on individual apps. It is available only for Android but an iOS version is "coming soon." Since it was launched in February, the app has been downloaded 200,000 and has made it to the top 100 productivity apps in Germany and Austria.
"We have helped over 15,000 people reclaim personal time," says the BreakFree website.
Smartphone addiction is alarmingly on the rise. A recent report by analytics firm Flurry says the number of mobile addicts has more than doubled in the past year alone. In March 2013, Flurry says there were 79 million individuals who couldn't get enough of their smartphones. This number has now grown 123% to 176 million in March this year.
An average adult launches apps around 10 times per day, so Flurry defines the mobile addict as a user who launches apps at least 60 times per day.