SPACE is back! An update on our fruity encounters...

On 2nd November we were removed by Apple from the App store.  On the 6th November, I wrote a blog, stating what we believed to be the facts of the case, and our ongoing confusion as to why SPACE had been treated in this way.   

3 hours after publishing, a very friendly chap from Apple called to discuss the reasons for our removal.  It transpired that we can use location - based services, so long as there is a customer-facing feature which makes use of this approach.  Of course we have such a feature - a useful map which shows our iOS users where in the day they are using their devices.  We had argued this point consistently throughout the previous 3 weeks of back and forth with Apple, but maybe we were talking to the wrong people.  

Anyway, Apple have now deemed this a legitimate use of location-based services and we have been reinstated in the store.

Of course, we are relieved and happy, particularly for our users - many of whom have already contacted us in reaction to news of our removal.  

#saveSPACEApp brightened our hearts, so thank you.

We are more determined than ever to build a world class product which pushes forward an understanding of digital wellbeing and what it means to build a healthy relationship with technology.

And we remain eternally grateful to our industry friends who openly shared their stories with us  - giving me confidence to write the story, a story which, incidentally, I still believe. I am sorry that not all players are getting this same treatment - but remain hopeful that Apple is reassessing it’s approach to the digital wellbeing community.  With luck, many other players will receive the support they need to stay active in the store until a point in time when the Screen Time API is made available to all.

In the meantime it’s back to the mission for us - to help millions of people to find their phone / life balance.  

In the Kill Zone - An update for SPACE on iOS

On the 2nd November, SPACE was removed by Apple from the App store.  They decided that the location-based approach which we use is no longer allowed.  We use this approach to show our users where they activate their phone and also to calculate screen time.  We’ve used this approach for 3 ½ years. We developed it in discussion with Apple.

Our existing iOS users will still have access to SPACE, but won’t be able to update it.  Their experience will slowly degrade. Thousands of other future users - people looking for solutions to help curb their phone addiction - will never be able to experience SPACE.  

We won’t be able to help them to find their phone/life balance.  

SPACE is not alone.  We believe that Apple is systematically targeting apps which compete with their own Screen Time functionality (released in September).   We are, in effect, in the kill zone.  

How do we know this?  Because our industry has a social purpose - to help develop healthy relationships between humans and technology.  And we all talk.

We’re in contact with most of the leading screen time and parental control apps.  Everyone we have spoken to is affected. Some, such as Freedom, were removed from the store and have been public about that.  Many others are in a nasty no-man’s-land, on notice from Apple, or in a situation where their updates are being blocked.  Others have caved and rebuilt apps without 90% of their previous functionality, just to keep something in the store. For those companies - with employees and investors - going public is a hard thing to do.  And then there’s the fear of Apple. After all, Apple control 50% of app distribution.

“Perhaps one-day they’ll change their mind, we’d better not get blacklisted for life…..”

If the issue really was with the use of location - based services for background-mode, then all apps using this approach would be removed from the store.  But many continue to prosper - such as daily tracker apps like Life Cycle. SPACE operates under a strict and transparent privacy policy. We don’t record or store location based data.  And yet we are being targeted. This inconsistency is something that is particularly hard to swallow.

Not only will our existing (and future) iOS users be impacted, but so too will our cross-platform solutions.  Our Android users won’t be able to add friends and family from iOS. Our corporate customers won’t be able to offer SPACE for all their employees.  We will struggle to raise funding for our business. We will struggle to support our ongoing academic research into phone addiction - research which relies on a cross-section of the market.  

The industry will suffer.  Digital wellbeing and the development of solutions to support it is just starting to be understood. SPACE (formerly Breakfree) has been a leader in this marketplace and is the most accurate of all the screen time trackers on iOS.  But we know that SPACE has a long way to go to be great. Innovation is critical. Just like with healthy eating, we need a variety of voices, solutions and brands that resonate with users in different ways to support the movement towards a more conscious relationship with technology.  

And yet we are approaching a situation where one of the two biggest providers of the devices to which we are trying to find balance with, is also in sole control of the solution.

Given the closed nature of the IOS platforms, these apps have relied (in some cases for four years) on location-based services, VPNs or MDM to deliver screen time statistics as the foundation for a diverse array of functionality.  Given there is no alternative method for these apps to function, the recent u-turn on policy eradicates the industry. Until Apple opens up an API for Screen Time, so that we can build exciting, supportive and game changing products off the back of it, it is the only way that digital wellbeing providers can exist across platforms.  

Our ask to Apple: keep us up until a point in time that you open up your Screen Time API for us to build even better products.

For now, we’re collecting our thoughts for the best next steps.  We are helping hundreds of thousands of users across our products on their journey to a healthier relationship with technology, and we’ll continue to do that for as long as we can.   We are so grateful to all our users who have helped us grow, who love SPACE, and who have shared with us how SPACE has changed their life.

We believe in a world where phone/life balance is achievable for all.   We will not give up on that mission.

Want to help?

Moved by what your hear?  Then get in touch georgie@space-app.com

Know anyone at Apple?  Share our story...we’re trying to understand more.  We want to talk. We want to help Apple get serious about digital wellbeing.   

Want to support SPACE?  If you’re an Android user, upgrade to SPACE Pro today - it’s how we’ll keep the business alive.

We are the Architects of our Daily Lives

By Christina Crook, author and founder at The Joy of Missing Out. Find out more at experiencejomo.com

Our days are full.

For most of us, from the moment we wake up in the morning, our days are ripe with noise and busyness and rushing. At the end of the day, we are tired. We are so very tired. 

Can you relate to any of these feelings?

"I'm tired of trying to keep it all together. My team needs me. My spouse needs me. My kids need me. I feel like I am already living with a wall of regret."

"I'm exhausted. I'm on 24/7. I feel like I can't turn off because if I do my career will slow down and my boss will think I'm a lazy sloth and I will miss my dentist appointment and I'll never get my side hustle off the ground and I won't know about my friend's new puppy and..."

"I come home from work feeling numb. The only thing I have energy for is scrolling and Netflix. And more Netflix. And more Instagram. And more Facebook. At the same time. I've been on social long enough to know it's a waste of time but I. CAN. NOT. STOP. I don't know what else to do."

It takes a powerful no to say a powerful yes.

A couple of years ago, I decided to step away from this kind of bombardment to discover what life might be like without the windows of my day crowded by news and punditry, busyness and chatter. 

I gave up the Internet for 31 days. 

It was a time of slowing, quieting and coming close to family and my immediate community in our west end neighbourhood of Toronto.

Unplugging was like someone taking an eraser to the chalkboard of my mind and wiping it entirely clean.

I could hear. I was still. I spent my time and attention with intention.

All of us can sense that there's something wrong with our relationship with time.

“For most of us, we’re rarely aware of what we are doing. Our attention is constantly diverted. Being mindful is difficult because we are always anxious about time. We never have enough of it," writes Cecile Andrews in the wonderful compilation, Simpler Living, Compassionate Life.

Another woman and her family decided to challenge their relationship with time. Suzanne Crocker, a retired physician, and her husband moved themselves and their three children, ages 10, 8 and 4, to a remote part of the Yukon where they lived for most of a year. They lived for those nine months with no electricity and without any means of keeping time. No clocks. No power. No “You’ve got 5 more minutes.” No more “Hurry, we’re late.”

What they found is that in the absence of time-saving technologies like cars, smartphones and washing machines, time expanded. They had more of it.

We are living in a culture that can't turn off. 

We complain about having no time, all of the time, and yet we impulsively spend what free moments we have submerged in the never-ending drama of email inboxes, social media feeds and television that often leave us feeling more exhausted than if we’d not bothered with them in the first place.

During my digital detox, when I was no longer compulsively reaching for my smartphone throughout the day, I made two important discoveries:

First, that the world keeps turning without me. The web keeps clicking along without my words, without my likes and dislikes. It made me feel small. It reminded me I am small. I'm not the centre of the universe. The world, it keeps on turning.

Second, I discovered that I wear my busyness as a badge of honour.

I’m a mother of three young children. I have an executive husband who travels often for work. I have no family living nearby to help out. I have a lot of good reasons to say “I’m so busy.”

I HAVE A LOT OF GOOD REASONS TO SAY "I'M SO BUSY." BUT WHAT MARGIN I HAVE, I FILL.

But the truth is, there are windows in my day for slowing down, for doing the things I want to do, connecting with the people I want to connect with. But what margin I may have, I fill. 

I could sit for 10 minutes and read a novel while my kid runs around in the park, but instead, I check email.

I could drive a reasonable, relaxed pace home, but instead, I operate like a race car driver to get on to the next thing. 

What Suzanne Crocker and her family’s example teaches us is that in order to find time we must stop valorizing our ability to keep a more and more frenetic pace.

“As parents, we’re the architects of our family’s daily lives,” write Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross in their book, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. 

“We build a structure for those we love by what we choose to do together, and how we do it. We determined the rhythms of our days; set a pace. There are certainly limits to our control… Ask any parent of a teenager. And it often feels that our lives are controlling us, caught as we are in a mad rush from one responsibility to another. Yet the unique way that we perform this dance of daily activities says a lot about who we are as a family.” 

Filmed over 9 months, off the grid, without external crew, and featuring the unique perspectives of children, Crocker’s documentary, All The Time In The World explores the theme of disconnecting from our hectic and technology-laden lives in order to reconnect with each other, ourselves and our natural environment – parents connecting with children, children connecting with nature. 

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, writes: “Given a chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in the creek, turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion.”

The benefits of moon-bathing, forest walks, and earthing (making a small nature connection in the midst of a city) are manifold. The need for these kinds of connections to nature have never been so lacking and never been more needed. We are out of step with the seasons, with our circadian rhythms, with our hearts. We can not live or love well in rushing.

It may not surprise you that city dwellers have a higher risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centres. The truth is, we are on a treadmill of our own choosing. We rush from one task to the next, filling what free moments we do have with quick online check-ins and extra tasks.

Rushing. Rushing. Rushing. Doing. Doing. Doing. Producing. Producing. Producing. Consuming. Consuming. Consuming.

We can step off. 

Recently, I've been challenging myself to do one less thing. One less errand. One less email. One less task. Some days I take extra time to be present to my kids at school drop off: kissing their messy heads before they disappear behind the double doors and lingering to catch up with another parent. I’ve begun the practice of arriving earlier for meetings, sitting for 10 minutes to give myself space to pause and prepare. I’m aiming to leave the dishes in the sink more often to pick up a library book and read. 

It’s powerful to focus on one small thing. It can change us. 

Where do you see margin? Is it in your early hours, lingering in bed? Is it over your lunch hour? Is it in the early evening, when you could leave something undone? Hold that space sacred. 

We are the architects of our daily lives. By reexamining our relationship with time, we may discover we have more than we think.


The Secrets we Keep

As working parents running a start up we were so moved by this incredibly truthful and important message from Christine Armstrong. 

Having it all is an impossible task.  We are living in a world where unrealistic expectations lead to inevitable failure. 

We believe that being available and connected 24/7 doesn't help things.  How can we try to craft the balance we want between working and parenting, when we are reachable all the time?  Is it possible to ever really take a break?  It's like someone who is trying to quit sugar carrying around a kit kat all day, holding it in their hand, keep it in their pocket, putting it on the desk, or the kitchen work surface in plain view. 

There is no single answer.  But the honesty of this article goes a long way towards opening up the real complexities of today's working life.  For many of our users - particularly the Busy Bees - work life balance is so closely related to phone/life balance, and it's time for an open and frank conversation about the life we really want to live. 

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/working-mothers-families-and-the-secrets-we-keep/news-story/cff22f5c86fe6001ee780bdf12801e08?nk=a6bdc1d589982a676ee223d4670c6e8a-1536218583

The Digital Mindfulness podcast with Lawrence Ampofo

What a total privilege to join Lawrence Ampofo on the Digital Mindfulness to talk all about the future of SPACE, digital wellness and the technology landscape more broadly.  An episode that's worth a listen - but we recommend to all our SPACE users that you subscribe to the digital mindfulness podcast  as it's crammed with fascinating insight on how to find your phone/life balance. 

https://soundcloud.com/digital-mindfulness/107-how-to-consciously-connect-with-georgie-powell/s-UGhjV

 

 

 

The problem with Digital Wellness

As more and more people become aware of their technology habits, a line is being drawn between ‘good and ‘bad’ apps.  On the one side sit ‘bad' apps - those apps that eat our time meaninglessly, propagate fake news, encourage online stalking, endless scrolling, spending, gaming, gambling and time wasting.  On the other side are ‘good’ apps designed to make us better - better at cooking, exercising, sleeping, parenting,  better at time management, thinking, better at sex. The list goes on.  

Many would think that digital health means cutting the ‘bad’ in place of the ‘good’.  

But here’s the problem.  

Being better still comes at the cost of distraction.  We’re so busy being better that we’ll interrupt being us at any cost.  The price? The loss of all those important human characteristics which we pride so much at SPACE - boredom, daydreaming, having a good old chat.  

The loss could be greater in the future.  As tech evolves it will no longer be accessed by us through the clunky device in our hand.  Tech will be in us and around us. In our homes, our cars, our wearables, our eyes and ears.  This will bring new freedoms. Gone will be the days of a cracked screen or sluggish typing.  Digital products and brands alike will have to find value - additive ways to enter the ‘private’ domain of the home. In other words, ‘the bad’ may automatically be filtered from our lives.  

But ‘the good’ will remain.  These services will have legitimate cause to interrupt us at just the right time to take our medicine, move more, eat less, sleep more, smile more, get it on more…..  

It will be hard to shut out ‘the good’ because we all want to be better, right?  Healthier, more productive, richer, kinder, more connected? They will gain traction, data, information, knowledge, power.  They will offer more to make us even better.

I feel exhausted.   

The fact is there is no good or bad, only shades of grey and a fight for your attention in a tech-based economy.  It’s never been more important for users to be aware of their relationship with technology.

The future? Users will have to be even more discerning when determining which services genuinely improve their lives.  

 

Georgie Powell, CEO PHONE LIFE BALANCE

Calling all Apple Users - Help us Help you!

The product that we can build on IOS is currently really restricted by Apple's operating systems.  We want to be able to bring all the cool features of SPACE Android - such as giving you a view on your app usage, excluding apps from SPACE, focus time, and notification blocking, to IOS - but right now it's technically just not possible.  

If you care, then follow the link below to sign up to a petition that we've created to help Apple listen!  

Thank you!! 

https://www.change.org/p/apple-allow-digital-wellness-developers-to-help-ios-users?utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_signer_receipt&utm_campaign=triggered&j=319113&sfmc_sub=818407573&l=32_HTML&u=57423153&mid=7233052&jb=794992

 

How do you make time for yourself as a parent in today's world? Our founder, Georgie Powell, shares her thoughts

Cutting down on your smartphone use is an important part of leading a better, more fulfilled life. But there's a whole lot of other things we need to do as well. Here at Space, we're committed to exploring every way of being healthier and happier - so when &Breathe approached our founder, Georgie Powell, for an interview on how to make time for yourself as a parent, she was more than happy to have a chat!

Check it out here:

https://goo.gl/m4U2Wn

Are you a smartphone slave?

Feeling like you’re spending too much time on your phone? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. But look out for the following signs and you’ll know for sure.

 

Here are 5 ways to tell if you’re addicted to your phone:

 

1. First thing in the morning…

Getting your day off to a good start is critical to being alert and productive. Science shows the importance of taking your time in the morning. Maybe spend 10 minutes mentally sorting through your schedule, or set aside 20 minutes for stretching. Whatever you do, don’t let the first thing you set your mind to when you wake up be checking your phone. If it’s to check the time, fair enough, but if you’re waking up bleary eyed and the only thing you can think about is checking whose status has been updated, you’re relationship with your phone has gotten out of hand.

 

2. Where is it?!

We’ve all been through the vexing frustration of misplacing our phone. It’s particularly maddening if you’re late for work or need to send an important email while you’re commuting - but if you’re relying on your smartphone to prop up your professional life, you’re relying on it too much. A lost phone can be annoying, but if it feels like the end of the world - you have a telling warning sign.

 

3. Phantom buzzing.

It goes without saying that if you start hearing your phone buzz when it definitely isn’t, you’re probably using it too much. It’s an easy habit to fall into however as we’ve become so conditioned to associate that noise with something that needs our attention. But if you’re constantly listening out and worrying if there’s an update you’ve missed, then the list of concerns in your subconscious only grows larger, and you start feeling more anxious. Sort through your notifications, then put your phone down and focus on something else.

 

4. Out of battery again?

It can vary, but the average smartphone battery should be pushing 16 hours before it dies. Sound like too much? Then you’re using your phone excessively! If you’re running out of battery in under 6 hours it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror (if you can bear not to check your phone in that time, of course).

 

5. Last thing at night.

Mornings are critical, but you’re setting yourself up for disaster if you don’t get a good night's rest. If you’ve got any important calls to make or emails to send, get them out of the way a good half an hour before you plan to sleep. Studies have proven that smartphone scrolling immediately before you go to bed hurts your chances of drifting of quickly and peacefully. Meditating or reading are great alternatives.

 

So there you have it. Five simple signs you might be a smartphone slave. If any of these apply to you, it could be worth downloading the Space app. Or, if you want a more detailed analysis of your scrolling habits, how about a quiz or two? You can find ours here and you can head on over to Motorola’s website to take theirs and find out exactly what kind of phone user you are.