Smartphone addiction is quite common nowadays, with so much of lucrative content to surf through. You have probably found yourself often stuck in front of your phone screen aimlessly scrolling through news feeds. Flipd, a new app on the block, attempts to help you check your addiction.
About one month after its launch, the Flipd usage meter on its website reads 20,158 hours spent flipped off. While primarily aimed at checking phone addiction, Flipd has more serious implications too. It can let you form a group of phones and control them remotely. This is a useful tool for parental control, and may also come temporarily handy in case of phone theft.
Flipd has a simple interface. You need to sign in with either Facebook or Google to set up your account. The main screen has the counter for hours spent Flipd off, the main button to flip your screen off, the auto response button and the option to switch off other phones. Sliding from the left of the screen brings out the options panel with Automated Response, Emergency Contacts and Advanced Lock options, and other standard FAQ and ratings options. You can choose your automated response to phone calls and messages from a host of custom texts, and select up to four contacts to call in case of emergency. The ‘Advanced Lock’ option gives the phone permission to switch off the screen.
L-R: The Home panel, the Lock screen and Join Group notification
Once you enable Advanced Lock, you can create your own group, that will generate a code. To add phones to a group that you will be able to control, all you need to do is install Flipd on those phones and enable Advanced Lock permissions. The ‘Flip Off Others’ option will provide an option to join a group, which is verified by the code generated by the parent phone. Once devices are added, the parent phone will have options to select which phones to ‘flip off’, and select a duration. Once the screen is locked, the large countdown timer displays the amount of time left until the screen is unlocked again. There is a button for 60-second unlock, and also options to turn notification sounds and automatic responses on or off. The bottom of the lock screen has emergency calls panel. The notification pane of the phone remains accessible while the screen is locked.
The 60-second unlock feature, however, can be accessed only once during the ‘flipd off’ duration. In case the screen needs to be force-unlocked, restarting the phone will give users some active time on the phone. We got about forty seconds with the restart, which may vary with the time taken by devices to fully load application processes.
L-R: The slide-out Options panel, and the Group Code which enables other devices to be Flipd
Although the concept is quite brilliant, there are certain loopholes. In some cases, they might even be inevitable. For instance, the force unlock via phone restart can be done multiple times. The lock can also be inconvenient if you are suddenly in need of your phone for a long span of time. There is also no way to exit a group, until it expires or the phone is removed by the parent phone. This is a useful tool for parental control, and also in case a phone is lost. In such a case, if it is added to a group on another phone, it can simply be flipd off from it, which gives victims scope to prevent wrong usage of phones.
Flipd is a useful tool, not just for removing distractions, but as a very convenient theft protection and parental control. It has carefully curated balance of emergency unlocks, which does not negate the entire purpose of the app. There is, of course, scope for improvement, with interface refinement, app crash fixes and support for Windows and iOS platforms being the most important. As of now, Flipd is available only on Android's Google Play Store. Overall, Flipd is a neat, necessary tool to impose restrictions, especially if you have exams coming up!