If you want to stop yourself from instinctively scrolling through your phone whenever you have a free moment, there’s an app for that. It’s called Space, but the wrinkle here is that Space can’t be found in the App Store.
Ramsay Brown, whose company Dopamine Labs created the app, told 60 Minutes on Sunday that Space was rejected from the store in January. The reason: A rep from the Apple Store Review reportedly said that “any app designed to help people use their phones less is unacceptable for distribution in the App Store.” (Thrive Global has reached out to Apple for comment.)
Space gives you a replacement icon for your time and attention sucks of choice, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat. Whenever you open that app, you’re presented with a twelve second pause, and the app asks you to breathe. The idea is to help you consciously enter into your social feeds, rather than mindlessly dive in.
If you have an iPhone, the only way to get Space is through a web app, thus bypassing the App Store.
This encounter shows how tech companies aren’t all that eager to help users recalibrate their relationship with technology. Space epitomizes Time Well Spent, the movement to get tech companies to focus less on getting as much user attention as possible and instead create products that help meet core human needs like enabling real-life relationships. Coincidentally, apps that foster in-person connections are the ones people feel are the most worth spending long chunks of time on.
It was a disheartening interaction, says Brown, a Dopamine cofounder and the company’s chief operating officer. “This is one of the largest gatekeepers in human attention being disinterested in becoming part of the human solution,” he says. To date, more than a billion iPhones have been sold worldwide.
Google, conversely, has welcomed Space to its mobile marketplace, the Google Play store, Brown says. This is a signal that the search giant is ready to “give people a little more control about how they want their minds to work,” he says.
Space and its peers in the Time Well Spent movement put tech companies in a fascinating position. Do they want to help users have a more conscious relationship with technology and confront behavioral addiction? Or do they, as Time Well Spent leader Tristan Harris might say, just want to harvest as much attention as possible?
For a deep dive into Dopamine Labs, head here.
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com