Focus; it’s apparently what old people say young people lack these days. Well in China, a new mobile app seeks to use public humiliation as a means to help its users focus better. Oh, did I mention that this app was also a game?
The app, aptly named “Focus (专心)” has been making the rounds online in China since its debut earlier this month. The premise is simple: turn on the app, and for however long you leave the app and your phone untouched, you grow a plant. The plant grows larger the longer you don’t touch your device. Sounds familiar? Well that’s because the premise is similar to the focus app Forest.
Where Focus deviates from Forest is its “gaming” elements. The app accumulates your fully-grown plants and allows you to “grow” more types of plants. Setting the app for longer durations also increases the number of plants that grow simultaneously. The app also has unlockable plants that appear after you reach a target goal. Each plant is also its own plot of land that can be collected into a “farm.”
Think Farmville, except it drives you away from doing anything on your phone.
So, all of this seems to be low risk. There doesn’t seem to be any retribution when you fail, except a dead digital plant like in Forest. That’s where Focus differs. Inside Focus‘ settings, there’s the ability to turn on “Super mode”, where if the player fails to meet the set goals, the app hijacks the phone and blasts embarrassing Chinese pop music.
Luckily for me, the music and the app can be turned off right as the music starts.
The app’s unique mode of punishment has created a following in China. Netizens have called the app fun and novel with one user interviewed by Sina saying that there’s “finally an app that can help me keep away from my phone so I can study for my term exams”.
Focus is an interesting way to keep yourself from playing and relying on the smartphone or tablet too much. The app is currently free on Android devices. Sadly, it’s China-only, at least for now.