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Recapture Time with Moment

It’s easy to get lost in whatever you’re doing on your iPhone or iPad and become oblivious of your surroundings – just ask anyone who’s tried Pokémon GO. I don’t have a problem doing that occasionally to blow off steam, and the reality is that a lot of my work gets done on iOS, but there’s a time and a place for everything. What I don’t want is for my device use to take away from time I spend with friends and family.

If you feel the same way, but have a hard time putting your iPhone or iPad away, Kevin Holesh’s app Moment can help. By tracking your iPhone or iPad usage, you can get a handle on how much time you spend on each device, and even how much time you spend in individual apps. What’s more, if you purchase the Pro version of Moment, you can take advantage of its full Phone Bootcamp course and other tools that can help you find ways to reduce your device usage.

Free Features

The free version of Moment includes device usage tracking and the first five lessons of Phone Bootcamp. When you open Moment, you are greeted with the hours and minutes you have used your phone today. Below that are color-coded bars that show how much you’ve used your devices for the past several days. The colors provide glanceable feedback about how your actual use compares to the goal you set in Moment’s settings – green if you’ve done well, yellow if you are close to exceeding your goal, and red if you exceed your goal. Moment also includes an Apple Watch app for quickly checking your iOS device usage.

Tapping on any day gives you additional details about your usage including:

  • The number of times you have picked up your device;
  • A timeline of when you picked up your device and the number of minutes you used it each time; and
  • A pushpin icon on the right side of the navigation bar that you can tap to see a map of where you used your iOS device.

In addition, if you turn on ‘App Use Detection’ in settings, you can also see your iOS device use by app for every day other than today. This is my favorite feature of Moment because it gives me the sort of detailed information that lets me distinguish between time spent playing a game versus writing this review, for instance.

The way the app usage feature works is clever. There are no public APIs for tracking app use on an iOS device, so Moment reminds you every morning to go to the Battery screen in the iOS Settings app and take a screenshot of the number of minutes you used each app. Moment reads the time each app was used from the screenshot using optical character recognition. If you use more apps than fit in the screenshot, you won’t get data on the ones that don’t fit, but in my experience, there was space to fit about a dozen apps, which covered my most heavily used apps.

App use details, timeline, and usage map.

App use details, timeline, and usage map.

Another feature that is new to Moment 3.0 is the Phone Bootcamp, a 14-day training course designed to help you find ways to use your phone less. With the free version of Moment, you get the first five lessons. The entire course covers exercises that range from little things like putting your phone aside for the first hour after you get up in the morning, to putting it aside for an entire day. Phone Bootcamp is a great addition to Moment because it’s one thing to understand where your time is going, but quite another to figure out how to change your habits.

Pro Features

Moment’s Pro features are a $4.99 in-app purchase that add a suite of tools to help you reduce your device use. You can set a daily use limit, and even turn on a feature that effectively forces you off your iPhone or iPad by popping up a modal alert every few seconds. The only way to use your device is to dismiss the alert, which just reappears after a few seconds, which is annoying, but effective. You can also set up ‘Tiny Reminders’ that make a little sound after a certain amount of time passes while using your device or create ‘Screen-Free Time’ by defining an amount of time or time range during which your phone will play an alarm and send you a stream of push notification to get off your phone every time you open it. Finally, the Pro version unlocks all fourteen of the Phone Bootcamp sessions.

Settings, family features, and Phone Bootcamp.

Settings, family features, and Phone Bootcamp.

Family Subscription

The Family subscription lets you track each family members’ iOS use and adds a feature that is a little like ‘Screen-Free Time’ for groups. I did not test this feature, but for $14.99 for three months, or $44.99 for a year, Pro features are enabled for your entire family and any family member set can up ‘Family Dinner Time,’ which is a time period that works like ‘Screen-Free Time’ for the whole family. Anyone who opens their phone during ‘Family Dinner Time’ will hear an alarm and get a constant stream of push notifications nagging them to turn off their phone. The Moment Watch app can also track family members’ usage.

Moment is a well-designed, clever app that can help you reduce your iPhone or iPad use. Although Moment has been around for a while, version 3.0 of Moment feels like a real breakthrough compared to earlier versions. So much of my work and personal relationships flow through iOS devices that aggregate use numbers aren’t that useful to me, but the per-app use statistics in Moment 3.0 are a different story. They allow me to distinguish better between productive device time and fiddling around.

By combining multiple types of alerts and timers with the Phone Bootcamp in the Pro version, Moment also gives users a wide variety of tools to curb their device use. I don’t think I’ll be setting a limit on my iOS use long term, but I do plan to continue to track my per-app use and set screen free time when I’m at home with my family. It’s that flexibility that’s Moment’s greatest strength. You may not use them all, but there’s probably at least one tool in Moment that could help you be more mindful about your iOS device use.

Moment is free on the App Store. You can unlock the Pro features with a $4.99 in-app purchase and subscribe to the Family features for $14.99 for three months or $44.99 for one year.

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