Samsung and Arianna Huffington Launch an App to Help You “Log Off”

THRIVE combats tech ...with tech.

New Year, new screen time rules.

With studies showing the unsurprising negative effects of spending too much time online, the industry that helped us get addicted to our phones is now hoping to undo the bad habit.

Enter the THRIVE app. A partnership between Arianna Huffington and Samsung, the app is a new way for tech users to set some boundaries with their phones in order to connect more deeply with themselves and others.

The app is meant to act as your personalized “Do not Disturb” mode. By setting it up for prolonged hours, you’ll not only limit your online time wasted, but also alert friends and family members trying to contact you that you’re simply too busy “thriving.”

This particular feature is similar to the iOS and Android “do not disturb” modes, in which you can set your device to reply back that you’re busy, in a meeting, etc.

The new app is part of Huffington’s larger online wellness endeavor, Thrive Global, and is exclusively available in the Galaxy Apps store for the Samsung Note8. It’s expected to come to other Samsung Galaxy Android models in the near future. We also tried the app out for ourselves (more on that below).

The idea for the app was inspired by the fact that, in 2018, tech is consuming our attention and crippling our ability to focus, think or be present. Huffington and Samsung’s app — ironically — fights tech with tech.

“You really can’t talk seriously about overall well-being without talking about how we use technology,” Huffington tells Inverse. “Obviously it allows us to do amazing things, but it’s also sped up the pace of lives beyond our capacity to keep up. We all feel it — we’re being controlled by something we should be controlling.”

How It Works

THRIVE's app control center.


When the app began being developed over a year ago, there was a trickle of articles about the downsides of technology and being always on, Huffington says. “But as we approached our launch date, it became a deluge, with even tech leaders acknowledging that being always on and constantly immersed in social media can have serious consequences on our health, relationships and productivity.”

Here are the THRIVE app’s various features, meant to “help you reclaim your time away from tech.”

  • Thrive Mode - blocks all apps, notifications, calls and texts. However, calls and texts from people on your VIP list will always go through.
  • App Control - helps you set goals for how much you use specific apps and monitors your daily usage.
  • App Blocking - Lets you set boundaries with the apps you choose. For example: once you reach your limit for a particular app, you won’t be able to access it until 12 a.m. the next day.

THRIVE in action.


Why We Might Need It

Huffington, who’s best known for her online news venture the Huffington Post, agrees that “logging off” needs to be the new logging on.

“It’s certainly in the zeitgeist — and 2017 was definitely an inflection point in our relationship with technology,” she says. “It was the year we woke up and began to see what the technology we’ve been swimming in has been doing to us.”

Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple to just log off, Huffington explains. “Our addiction to our devices is no accident — it’s by design, with the work of a lot of behavioral scientists, neuroscientists and computer scientists on the other side of those icons.”

An app like THRIVE could help rebuild the walls between us and our virtual lives.

Testing “Thriving” Hours

As Inverse tested the app, we definitely noticed a sort of “app cleanse” happening during “thriving” hours. Granted, being on a laptop while having a phone in do not disturb mode may feel pointless, but every one less notification helps!

The app itself has a simply-designed, clean interface, with what looks like a blue crescent moon. This helped keep it blended into the background without the distraction of a big logo popping up to remind us we can’t have a taste of Twitter.

It’s difficult to talk about the overuse of technology today without acknowledging its parallel to the current political climate.

“We live in stressful times, but it’s not just the news, it’s also the way the news and all information is presented online,” Huffington says, referring to it as “the attention economy,” in which outrage, disaster, scandal, conflict and the sensational grab and hold your attention more than complexity and balance.

With tech giants like Samsung —and the founders of big digital publications — getting behind the idea of “online breaks,” perhaps in 2018 we’ll start to balance our interest in consuming information with processing it in a healthy way.

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