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Forest displays user activity for the week, showing both grown saplings and dead trees.

Stay focused by growing your own mini-forest. With a constant barrage of social media at our fingertips, focusing is harder than ever. It can be so tempting to grab that phone and check Instagram or Twitter. But that short check-up turns into minutes, then hours, and work is left forgotten. Sometimes all that is need to keep the phone down is accountability. Forest offers that.

Boasting the tagline “Stay focused, be present”, Forest is an app aimed at keeping users off their phones when they don’t need them. Created by ShaoKan Pi, the app is available on iOS and Windows for 99 cents and free on Android phones. The app is also available free for the browsers Chrome and Firefox.

The idea of the app is to set a time from 10 minutes to 120 minutes when the user wants to work or just stay off the phone. Set the time for however long, and it plants a virtual sapling. Leaving the phone alone for the set amount of time grows the sapling into a tree, while using the phone causes the tree to die. If the phone is opened, the app will be open with encouraging words to keep focused and put the phone down.  The browser extension includes a blacklist feature where potentially distracting sites can be manually added.

Forest keeps track of each day’s forests and the amount of grown trees and dead trees. Tree size varies based on the amount of time set, with bushes for ten minutes and larger trees for 120. The app doesn’t prevent users from using their phone, just encourages them not to. Phones may still be accessed in case of emergency or work.

The option to set the timer and customize tree appearance makes the app more personal.

Forest is sleek and to the point. It’s not hard to navigate and encouraging to stay focused and productive. There’s a satisfaction in seeing all the filled forests from the week, and a sense that you should still be at work if you choose to give up on the sapling and let it die. Being able to see the day’s forest populated with big and small trees is gratifying, and makes staying focused a bit more tangible.

Successfully growing trees awards the player with virtual coins that may be used to purchase special trees, as a cute way to customize use. The cloud feature connects the user’s account to all their devices and allows them to monitor their monthly and yearly activity. An account is not neccesary to use the app.

Customizable and motivational, this cute app is a great motivation for anyone who struggles with procrastination, forgetfulness, and focus. If you struggle with being productive or want to be less dependent on your phone, Forest is worth a shot.

For more app reviews, read Snapimals app boasts tight design, pick-up-and-play.

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