Introducing RescueTime Mobile: A new way to take back control over time spent on all your digital devices

Today, we’re excited to launch a brand new RescueTime iOS app and an updated RescueTime Android app! To get right into them, skip the post and go straight to the downloads: RescueTime for iOS or Android.

It’s been more than ten years since the first iPhone came out and changed pretty much every facet of our daily lives. (Incidentally, RescueTime started around the same time, so we’ve been watching this journey right from the start!)

Putting the entire internet in our collective pockets has made us ludicrously connected. We have immediate access to everything—news, entertainment, directions home, that amazing key lime pie recipe, family, friends, friends of friends, total strangers from all over the world! No one could have imagined that your phone would be where you learned a new language, or took a course on meditation. Yet here we are, and it’s amazing.

But the smartphone revolution has had its share of downsides too.

When we first started swiping our screens we probably didn’t think they would end up ruining our sleep, deteriorating our attention, and addicting us to their pings, dings, and flashes like a slot machine.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen more people realize that they don’t feel in control of their relationship with their phone.

In fact, our research found that the average person spends more than 3 hours a day on their phone (with 25% spending more than 4.5 hours!). While the majority of people check their phone every 15 minutes.

Our phones have become such a huge part of our lives that simply trying to restrict them is like trying to start a diet at an all-you-can-eat restaurant. It’s not going to happen without a little help.

We’ve spent the last decade building RescueTime into a tool that helps you use your devices on your own terms and become more productive, focused, and balanced.

Today, we’re thrilled to push that journey another step forward. With our new RescueTime mobile apps for iOS and Android, we’re now helping you find balance across all your digital devices.

RescueTime for mobile: Get a complete view of your time, across all your devices.

There are many apps and plugins that will help you understand some of your time. Even iOS and Android themselves have added features to help you use your phone less. That’s great, but without larger context, it can feel pretty dark.

The entire conversation around our phone use seems to be about overuse and impulse control, with terms like “addiction” getting tossed around much too freely. When it comes to digital wellness, pretty much every solution only focuses on what you shouldn’t do. Don’t spend so much time on Facebook. Stop checking email all day. Restrict your Instagram usage.

But we think the big picture matters. A lot.

That’s why we’re super excited with how RescueTime’s new iOS app and updated Android apps give you more control over your relationship with your all of your devices.

Rather than simply telling you which apps you’re using on your phone or how much time you’ve spent on it, the RescueTime mobile apps give you the larger context of how your phone time affects all your device time, your work habits, and your focus.

Here’s a high-level look at a few of the specific features that we’ve built to help you craft a meaningful and balanced relationship with your time staring at your screens.

Get real-time insights into your digital activities (and how they impact your day)

With RescueTime Mobile, you get a quick, glanceable insight into how you’re doing, including your:

  • Desktop time with productivity scores
  • Top activities for the day
  • Overall productivity pulse
  • Total mobile screen time, broken down hourly

Why we think you’ll love this: The RescueTime desktop experience is fantastic for deep-diving into your stats. We give you rich charts and graphs showing how you’re spending your time. But in the moment, it can be a lot to absorb.

The mobile experience is a lighter companion. It gives you a snapshot of how your day is going so you can react accordingly, whether that means taking a break or launching a FocusTime session so you can block distractions and get back on track.

Set screen time goals and get notifications when you pass them

It’s probably safe to say the #1 reason for an app like RescueTime mobile is to help curb your smartphone use. And whether you’re trying to cut hours or minutes, we can help.

RescueTime for iOS and Android let you set specific screen time goals for the day and will send you a notification when you go past them.

Why we think you’ll love this: Sometimes just seeing that you’re spending 3+ hours on your phone each day is enough to inspire change. But the only way you’ll make that happen is by tracking your progress. Screen time goals give you a quick look at how much time you’re actually spending on your phone today and historically, to let you react and change behaviors.

Keep your daily goals front and center to help build habits and focus on positive change

Screen time isn’t the only factor in creating a healthy balance with your digital devices. Your other goals are just as important, which is why RescueTime Mobile’s interface keeps all your goals front and center.

Why we think you’ll love this: Building better habits, getting into flow, deliberate practice—all the elements of a successful, productive day—come down to active feedback on how you’re doing. RescueTime for iOS and Android lets you see your progress quickly and without switching out of the work you’re doing. Just grab your phone, open the app, and see where you need to spend your time.

Differences between RescueTime Android and iOS versions

While we’ve tried to make the RescueTime Mobile experience the same across all devices, there are a few differences between the Android and iOS apps. Some of these are due to limitations with either platform, and others we’ll work to make consistent in future releases.

In the Android app, you can:

  • Manually log offline activities. This means tracking your meetings, phone calls, grabbing food, or anything else so you have an even clearer picture of how all your time is being spent. We will be adding this to iOS in an upcoming release.
  • See app-level usage so you know exactly how much time you spend in each app during the day. Unfortunately, this is not possible in iOS. If that ever changes, we’ll add this in.
  • Set your phone to go into do-not-disturb mode during FocusTime sessions. When you start a FocusTime session on your desktop computer, your phone will be notified and put into do-not-disturb mode. You can enable this on the settings screen.

On iOS, you can:

  • See the locations where you used your phone the most (like at work, on your commute, or at home). This is stored locally on the device, and shows you the physical locations where your phone time accrues. This is a new concept that we’re excited to learn more about. We may add it to the Android app in the future.

Note about iOS and the Productivity Pulse: Because we can only capture total screen time on iOS instead of individual applications, we don’t feel that time can accurately impact your productivity pulse. It would just be too much of a guess. Therefore, while your iOS time will show up in your reports under the total time, that time will not impact your productivity pulse.

Over the past 10 years we’ve watched as smartphones have taken over our lives

Like most people, I couldn’t imagine a life without my phone. And while it helps me stay connected with my loved ones, look up recipes for dinner, and make sure I don’t get lost, it can also be a major distraction.

With our new RescueTime for iOS and updated RescueTime for Android apps, you can now see how your phone use relates to your entire digital life and take back control over how you spend your time on all your digital devices. Without any shame.

Ready to give them a try? Download now.


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Robby Macdonell

CEO at RescueTime

19 comments

  1. Nice, great addition! With the release of iOS 12, Apple added Screen Time. Is there an API that accompanies this so RescueTime can access the breakdown by app etc?

  2. Thanks for continuing to make improvements to RescueTime. I’ve been a big fan of RescueTime and a paying customer for the last 8 years, and continue to be impressed by the amount of data the apps gather and the insights it provides. Keep up the great work!

  3. I was so excited when I got the email about this I downloaded it right away, but was rather disappointed when I found out that it simply records when you are using your phone as one big block (even when you are actually speaking to someone on the phone), so its not really that helpful. I want to see what time is being wasted on unproductive stuff, but one giant block of hours won’t really do that. Hopefully in future we can get a drill down into what is being used to get better info.

    1. Hey Sue, that’s definitely something we’d love to address (if Apple ever makes that information available to 3rd party developers in the future). For now, we think that seeing how your screen time impacts the rest of your day and setting specific goals for overall time is pretty great! We’ll be adding more features in the future.

  4. Congratulations on the app.

    I get a message saying I need iOS 11.0 or later when I try to download it to my phone. Sorry for being a bit old school, but does that mean you need (at a minimum) a particular iPhone model?

  5. Awesome – great to see the rescue time project getting completed!
    – I have got it up and running but can’t check the ‘log websites’ checkbox. Is this not available yet?

    1. Hey Eduardo! We’re definitely exploring what can be done with Apple Watch and will post as soon as we have something definitive.

  6. Hi,
    Thank you so much for making RescueTime available on iOS! However, I have some questions about tracking screen time in iOS. Is it possible for RescueTime to parse screenshots of the new ScreenTime feature on iOS 12? It’s not the cleanest solution but I think it could be viable as a workaround. Moment App used to do it using Battery Usage screenshots but that has it’s own limitations of course (https://inthemoment.io/faq). Thoughts?

    1. Hey Swojit! Thanks for the comment. We’ve talked about this but are looking into some different options for bringing more meaningful mobile information into the iOS app (in a way that’s more intuitive and gives more context about your work-life balance). Nothing to share yet but we’ll definitely be bringing updates to the app in the future!

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