What do you actually use your phone for ?
Do you mostly use Social networks or do you mostly send emails or are you old-school and make phone calls instead of WeChat ? How long do you spend playing Candy Crush and how long do you spend listening to music?
The answers to these questions are critical as they not only determine which phone you should be purchasing but also which contract you should be on with your service provider – the less you call then the higher the data package should be or visa versa.
To help answer these questions, typical techies would comb through the phone’s LOGS which are the little black boxes that airplanes have. The logs tell us about situations so we can use this information to get a better understanding and diagnose problems. But clearly not everyone can do that.
This is where Sony’s Lifelog app comes in. And it can be a game-changer as to how you see your digital and physical life.
The Lifelog app has one mission: to record everything you do and make present it in a way that is meaningful to you.
The Lifelog app
The Lifelog app is downloaded from the Google Play store and Sony has very cleverly not restricted the Lifelog app to only the Sony Xperia phones but it can be installed on any phone as long as it runs Android 4.4 and must have Bluetooth 4 Low Energy support (BLE).
The Lifelog app is broken down into two sections: The Fitness section which measures information such as calories burnt, step taken, records how many minutes/ hours you ran or walked and how long you slept for. But note, this is done via the Smartband (see below).
The second section of the Lifelog is a visual representation of your digital life. Every time you use one of your apps it is recorded along with the duration of how long you used that apps for. This is marked on your daily activity . Apps are placed into categories such as Browsing, Books, Games, Movies/ TV, Music, Camera/ Album, Communications. Under communication is where you will find the record for apps such as WhatsApp, Email, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Once you have the app on the phone, you ignore it and simply go about your normal mobile-business.
You then can view your historical usage which reveals exactly what you did and where you did it. Simply open the app and select a day and hit the Play button. You will see “yourself” sleeping at night and then as the day starts your avatar walks through the day as you open and close your apps.
If you tap on one of the categories such as communication, you can see an overview of the usage over a period of a Day, Week, Month, Year along with total number of hours spent. This is where you get the biggest fright when you notice that you spend hours of your life on Twitter or playing games !
The historical sleep patterns is also enlightening (and in my case frightening) as I discover just how little sleep I am getting. It also tells you how many hours of deep sleep you get compared to light sleep. I discovered that the shortest amount of sleep I had was 3 hours and 46 minutes and my longest sleep was 7 hours 35 minutes. Gulp.
With each category you can set a daily goal (eg sleep 8 hours) and the app will track if you meet that goal or not.
The Lifelog apps also maps literally where you travel to. This is displayed on a map inside the app so you can not only see which app you used, but you can see where you were when you used those app. I noticed that over a period of a week, I tend to travel in the same areas and even noticed that I take the “long way” to get to some locations that I frequently travel to. I now have a shortcut so I save on time and petrol too.
If you want to remember something specific that happened or that you did, you can add a Life Bookmark. The Lifelog app will take note of your location (and even the temperature at the time) and you add a note saying what it the event is.
The Smartband is an unobtrusive wearable band that you quickly forget you have on. Its goal is to simply log your movement activities and send that info back to the Lifelog app. As it uses the Bluetooth Low Energy, it doesn’t suck up the battery from the phone which means that you can have it active all day.
The band is simple and is waterproof so you don’t have to take it off when you shower or when it rains. Still not sure I would swim with it as the Lifelog doesn’t cater for that category of activities in any case.
You can set up the band to vibrate when you receive a message or an incoming phone call, however as there is no screen you can not really do anything besides be notified. I switched off all notifications and vibrations as I found that to be pointless.
The single button on the side of the device allows for some interaction with the music app on the phone such as skipping tracks but I just used it as traditional fitness bands to count my steps.
For my usage the device lasted 5 days before needed a charge and that was done by taking out the core of the device and hooking it into the microUSB charger.
The Smartband is priced around R1400 which places it in the same category as the Fitbit however it does integrate its data into the Lifelog app.
What about Privacy
There are those will not like to have this app installed as it does exactly what it is meant to do – tracks. Some say this is invasion of privacy as it shows the photos that were taken and the location where you were. You can switch off the tracking feature of both apps and physical location but that defeats the point of having the app.
So in Summary
The app does reveal some fascinating insights into how you use your mobile phone. Of course it doesn’t log your entire digital life as you still use a laptop and/or tablet which is not logged.
When you look back at your usage over the month, you begin to see a pattern of how you use the mobile device. If you find that you spend most of your time making lots of phone calls, then you have to look at your mobile contract and ensure that you have the correct package. If however you find that you spend most of your time using communications app, then ensure that your contract is sufficient to cover those data needs.
Having the combination of the Smartband and the Lifelog app is a nice way to get an overall understanding of what you do both digitally and physically. Since the Smartband is priced right, it makes for a good companion device.
Time is one of those commodities you can not buy the Sony Smartband and Lifelog combo sure does put things into perspective when you notice how long you spend on frivolous activities.