If you’re like me, you have a tricky relationship with your phone. You need to use it for some stuff, like keeping up with emails or contacting friends. But sending a quick text message can quickly end up being an hour on Twitter if you’re not careful. Some people call this “tech addiction,” and that might be appropriate, but it sounds extreme. I think of it as a challenging relationship with technology.
After all, good app and tech design encourages you to keep using it. We’re being pushed in the direction of using our devices by our own animal nature and the design of applications, so it’s no surprise that plenty of people find it’s hard to look away from their devices. A new app called “Hatch” can help with that.
Hatch helps users break the tech addiction cycle by hatching and collecting rare creatures, and it has been described as the “Pokemon Go” of focusing. Apple featured the application in their “New Apps We Love” feature in the App Store, and Hatch is in the top 100 productivity apps in the US, Canada, and a dozen other countries.
How It Works
When you open Hatch, you’ll have the option to pick the duration of your session. This is the amount of time you need to avoid using your phone in order to hatch your creature. Switching to a different app will cause the timer to stop and forfeit your creature for that round. When you leave the app, you’ll get a notification encouraging your to return to Hatch to prevent your egg from cracking. But once you open another application or do something with your phone, you’ll lose your egg.
Hatch basically uses it’s creature-hatching functionality to encourage you to not open any other apps. This has the effect of locking down your phone, keeping you from using it. It’s a startlingly simple idea, in the way that all excellent ideas are simple.
The creature are cute and pleasant to look at, with 40 unique creatures available to capture. When you hatch a new creature, it’s saved in your nursery, which holds all your caught characters. Similar to your Pokédex in Pokémon, this shows the types of creatures you’ve been able to hatch so far. There’s several levels of creature rarity, and longer hatch sessions are more likely to hatch more rare creatures. There’s a level of uncertainty and randomness to the creature you get, but sessions longer than a half hour seem to hatch the more unusual creatures. If you can handle a 90 minute session, you’re likely to get an awesome reward.
You’ll see a timer counting down how much focusing time you have left at the top of the screen. If you can’t make it, or you suddenly need to make an important call, you can press the “Give Up” button at the bottom of the screen to bail.
Does It Work?
If you like getting achievements in video games or badges in Girl Scouts, this game is pretty cool. Collecting the various creatures is delightful, and there’s a kind of gallery of all the creatures you’ve hatched so far. It was fun to play and look at the cute little animals you spawned.
Did it help improve focus? That probably depends on the type of relationship you have with your phone. Do you find yourself likely to just pick up your phone incessantly, even when you don’t want to? Then Hatch is an excellent app for cubing that kind of behavior. It gives you just a tiny bit of encouragement, nudging you towards better behaviors.
If instead you’re more likely to stay on your phone for far longer than you intended, this app might not be the best app for curbing that behavior. If you have an application that tend to soak up hours of your time, something like iOS’ forthcoming Screen Time tool might be better suited to helping solve your particular challenge.
Hatch is also good as a deterrent for slipping off into Twitter when you mean to be focusing. If you need to get some work done on your term paper or you need to pay attention to your job for a little bit, Hatch can help encourage you to stay on task. Again, by providing a small nudge towards staying in line with your intentions, Hatch helps you keep promises to yourself.
And you get a cute little animal for your trouble!
If you want to try out the free app and catch your limited edition rainbow creature for Pride month, download Hatch from the App Store or visit the Hatch website.