How We Built Flipd For IOS When No One Thought We Could

  • Alanna Harvey
  • 02 April 2016
  • 10:57 AM
“I want you to come back in a few months because I really think you’re going to have a tough time building this on Apple.”

We knew that we were going to face this kind of scrutiny. We had successfully launched Flipd for Android and we knew it wouldn’t be as easy a task on Apple’s closed platform.

Flipd works like a lock screen on a timer designed to keep you out of distracting apps while you’re trying to focus — and it’s simply not something we could recreate identically for iOS. We knew that.

But then a startup executive, who seemed to wrinkle his nose at the thought of our product, said this:

“I would never use this. I’m on my iPhone, like, 24 hours a day. I love it.”

Meant as a blow to our entire concept, he was actually validating how important it was that we follow through: no one should be on their phone all day. There’s something wrong with that mentality. So as much as he or anyone may refuse to admit it, the problem we’re solving is real.

That knowledge has motivated our team for the last six months to recreate what we managed to build on Android: an iOS version that’s equally effective and beautifully intuitive. We re-imagined how Flipdcould just work for iOS — that what it simply needed to do was remove distractions and help people save time.

A lot of doubt was cast in our direction during those months of development, much of it over the famously closed platform that would likely never allow our productivity app to see the App Store.

But guess what — it did. And TechCrunch covered the launch.


Here’s how Flipd works for iOS.

1. Hide all downloaded apps with the Full Lock

This is a powerful feature experience if you’re someone who gets easily distracted by your downloaded apps (think: social media, games). During the Full Lock, you’re still able to use default iOS apps — like your Phone or Music — but Flipd completely prevents you from even thinking of opening Instagram. Because it’s vanished.

Incoming notifications from your hidden apps are also kept from you until they reappear. This is especially helpful if you get sidetracked easily by notifications — and who doesn’t?

Just for reassurance, this feature syncs with your iOS calendar so you can keep track of what time your apps will be coming back. 

2. Challenge yourself to unplug with the Casual Lock

Designed with gamification in mind, this feature asks you how long you want to stay off of your phone, and it’s up to you to follow through. Once you Flip Off, the timer will track however long you manage to stay in the lock screen. If you decide you want to leave the screen before the timer runs out, you can (but that just means you’re a quitter).

Unlike the Full Lock, you do have a 60-second break that you can use once to catch up on something you’ve missed while Flipd Off, and it won’t effect your total time saved.

This feature is perfect for someone who wants to track the time they spend off of their phone, but who also needs access to some apps just in case.

3. Track your time spent off of your phone

Most apps in this space track how much time you spend on your phone or how many times you open your screen. Flipd does the opposite. It keeps track of how much time you spend off of your phone, which I believe is a more meaningful measure of your time. If you’ve made the explicit decision to Flip Off, it’s likely that you intended on focusing on a single task or doing something productive.

Keeping track of productivity is more valuable than tracking a bad habit.

There’s also an element of gamification here, where you can try to beat your best day streak and share your total time saved.

Where Android and iOS align

Both versions of Flipd have the same intention: to help you stay off of your phone. That’s the main goal of users coming into Flipd and it’s what Flipd does best. So whether you’re on Android or iOS and you use it to study, to spend time with someone, or even to sleep, Flipd helps you spend your time more focused, mindfully, and with fewer distractions.

It wasn’t easy, but we did it.