We’re writing to let you know about an important change.
We’re extremely proud to say that over the last few years, OFFTIME has made a significant and lasting impact on the technology sector. The perspective and features that OFFTIME has pioneered since 2012 have been included in Google’s recent Digital Wellbeing announcement, Apple’s Digital Health initiative, and Tencent’s initiatives on addiction. Needless to say, many more companies are following suit.
Beginning with our modest crowdfunding campaign, it’s been quite the journey for us. Since then, we’ve been involved in numerous public engagements, research and talks, achieved recognition as one of Google’s Best 100 Apps of the year, been cited in over 1,500 news articles, and our solutions have attracted over two million users while creating more than 2250 years of undistracted time. After creating the momentum that we did, seeing big tech companies adopt and promote the ideas and features we cultivated is the latest progression.
Now that Tencent, Google, Apple, and other large tech companies have made our core functionalities available on their platforms and apps, we’re announcing today that we are shutting down OFFTIME for iOS and Android. From here on out, the app will no longer be available for download, while existing users will be able to continue using the apps for the next few months until they fade out.*
The magnitude of this milestone should not be overlooked. While we may be shutting down, we truly believe these initiatives symbolise an important transition in the tech industry’s worldview. It’s changed from,”if you have a problem with our product, don’t use it” to, “as tech companies, it’s our responsibility to design products in a way that puts people first”. Tencent, Google, and Apple embracing digital health in this way signifies the strong consumer demand for these features, and their tangible, far-reaching benefits. We hope that this empowers employees of other tech companies to advocate for humane technology and positive ‘post-tech’ changes. In an industry that’s still largely focused on capturing and retaining the attention of its users, these features serve as a novel competitive advantage.
While the features announced by the big tech companies only cover basic functionality, this is certainly the first step in the right direction – a path that contemplates what consumers want and we as humans need, and incorporates these ideas into the design of their products. It’s also a promising step towards tackling issues like fake news, mental health, loneliness, inequality, and addiction. The fact that the big tech companies have picked up the baton and begun this journey for themselves should be celebrated. Not least for the fact that there’s more awareness and discussion around this topic than ever before, as well as more resources available to make further progress. Behavioural addiction and manipulation on scale in relation to technology is a gigantic challenge for the individual and our society as whole today.
We’ve always called for technology that supports its users rather than exploits them. We envisioned how some of the first technical features and non-technical approaches embodying this ideology would look. Now it’s up to others to continue pushing this frontier. Some of the current competition was sparked by our work, while others, like Levi Felix, Tristan Harris, Kevin Holsh, and Fred Stutzman started at around the same time. Therefore, we’re happy to see that initiatives such as Time Well Spent/Center for Humane Technology, EthicalOS, and many others will continue to engage with these vital issues in their own ways.
This is still the dawn of our digital revolution – an age where technology is at our core, both as individuals and as a society. We urge you to keep thinking critically about the role that technology plays in your lives. We remain hopeful, and are looking forward to a future where the industry genuinely has the individual’s and humanity’s best interests at heart.
It was a great journey. We’re thankful for all the support we received from our users, investors, mentors, team, friends, and families – and for the chance to work on something bigger than ourselves. In the end, it’s all about staying human in a digital age.
All the best from Berlin,
*If you bought the app after July 1st 2018, please feel free to get a refund by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, on Apple’s iOS it’s possible to refund purchases made in the last 90 days only – please be quick.