The Forest App on android, iPhone and ipad, is a fun green app that allows you to plant virtual trees while spending LESS time on your phone. Great for a digital detox and you can even plant REAL trees! This review will explain the basics and a few tips to help you along.
I must say, for such a basic app, it's really helped me avoid phone distractions and focus on the things I should be doing. With cute graphics and simple to use menus, this is one that will definitely be staying on my phone for the long term.
How to Get It
This app is free to download, it doesn't require logins from social media accounts and it's cheap to upgrade to a premium version for a few more extra options. You can get it on your app store or from their website here.
How To Use the Forest App
>Once you have downloaded it, open it up whenever you want to set time to focus and NOT use your device.
>Slide along the circle to set your timer for anywhere between 10 to 120 minutes.
>Press the ''Plant" box at the bottom of your screen & avoid using any apps until your tree has grown.
The screen will show a count down timer AND the app will warn you if you accidently open another app, so you have a chance to redeem yourself by returning to your tree.
If you don't return to the tree, it will wither and die. (Nothing else bad will happen!)
Once your tree has grown, you will be rewarded with Leaf coins depending on how long you set your timer for.
You will still be able to accept phone calls, send SMSs and a few other basic actions on your phone, so you wont be completely cut off from the world.
The menu is very intuitive and user friendly, so you can easily start playing the game immediately without having to work anything out.
Different timer setting will yield different results, so the longer you focus for, the larger your plant will be.
10-20 minutes will grow a shrub
25-55 minutes will grow a small tree
60-85 minutes a medium tree
90-115 minutes gives a large tree
115-120 minutes results in the biggest tree
As you earn Leaf coins, you will be able to select different shrubs and trees to grow. Click in the centre of your circle timer to change your plant and from here you can see those you have unlocked and choose new ones to add to your collection.
Each time you purchase/unlock a new plant with your earnings, the next plant cost will go up by 100 leaf coins each time, so choose wisely.
Trees are placed on both a daily and weekly map, giving you a great visual of how well you didn't use your phone. Having different plants does make it look prettier, and gives me a little more motivation to unlock the next tree.
You can assign category tags to your focus time if you want to keep track of what you've been up to.
I didn't particularly get a lot out of this, but it does allow me to track for example study time or exercise, and I can see that in certain situations I would probably use this feature more.
Alternatively you could allocate certain tree types to areas of your life you wanted to focus on so you can quickly view how you're going.
By default, you are given a rainforest sound that you can turn on or off, which I quite like. Once you have 500 leaf coins, you can start selecting different sounds such as a Paris Café or a beach for example. I assume once you unlock a sound, the next unlock will cost more leaf coins (but I don't know yet as I really want to unlock a few more trees and am saving my coins for this!)
This would be a great incentive to encourage kids to go screen free. Our kids don't really have a lot of screen time (sometimes I really wish they would just sit in front of a screen for a bit!). The App recommends ages 12 and above, so I would stick to this.
Planting a REAL TREE
Saving up your leaf coins can help you plant a real tree for farmers in developing countries through their sponsor, Trees For The Future and contributes to sustainable agriculture and diverse food forests. You can find out more about this program here. They have planted over 250,000 trees via the app! (2 From ME so far!)
It costs 2,500 leaf coins to plant each real tree. Once you click on this button, you will get a window pop up asking for confirmation and you can then share it on social media.
I was super excited to plant some real trees, but I would love to know where the tree will be planted, what it might be and how it contributes to that community. Perhaps this will be a feature in the future.
I've been using the app a lot and the only issue I've had is when my battery went flat. After this happened I had a message saying my tree was cancelled due to manually changing the time on my phone (which I didn't do). This was a bit annoying as I was almost finished with a 120 minute tree!
What's on the Premium Version
You can easily use this app without paying to upgrade. I chose to pay the couple of dollars it cost as I really wanted to plant a real tree and I've actually had a lot of fun competing in the weekly challenges. Here are a few things you get when you upgrade:
>Ability to add your own category tags
>Synch multiple devices
>Compete with other people
>Plant a REAL tree
>unlock more achievements
There are options to allow certain apps to be used and I guess this could be classed as cheating depending on how you use this feature. Head to the settings and look for the ''App Whitelist'' to select or unselect apps on your phone that will kill your trees.
This is a handy feature for apps that may interfere with your tree but aren't really causing a distraction. For example, I may watch a lecture on my phone or want to listen to a podcast and I don't want this to kill my tree, but I do want to avoid social media more.
You won't be able to white list all of your apps and it is up to you to decide how closely you stick to the premise of not using your phone at all.
For The Green Greeks
I couldn't help working out which timer option on the Forest App gave the best rewards, this is especially important if you want to work out how to maximise your leaf coins and unlock that Candy Tree. Most people probably wouldn't bother working this out, but I'm a bit of a closet gamer and sometimes I like to work out formulas behind the scenes to work out how to win.
So in case you're wondering how to get more bang for your tree, I've saved you the effort...
As you can see, if you are only planting short times, 10 minutes is more profitable than 15 minutes when you look at the per minute rate.
The times in Bold give you the best value and you can also turn on Ad rewards in your settings to double your leaf coins by viewing an ads. Personally, I skip the ads.
10 minutes = 3 Leaf Coins (0.3 per minute)
15 minutes = 4 Leaf Coins (0.26 per minute)
30 Minutes = 10 Leaf Coins (0.333 per minute)
35 minutes = 11 Leaf Coins (0.314 per minute)
45 minutes = 13 leaf coins (0.288 per minute)
50 Minutes = 14 leaf coins (0.28 per minute)
60 minutes = 21 Leaf Coins (0.35 per minute)
80 Minutes = 25 Leaf Coins (0.3125 per minute)
100 Minutes = 34 Leaf Coins (0.34 per minute)
120 Minutes = 43 Leaf Coins (0.3583 per minute)
Competing With Other People
This is fun! But, It is really hard to get and stay in the top 100!
I finally go there last week, I don't think I could ever be in the top 10.
I think people must be setting their alarms overnight to achieve the number of focus hours they get, and although I like a bit of competition, I'm not really willing to go that far.
If you can encourage your friends to join, you can compete on a more even keel AND with the premium app you can create rooms where you can invite friends (which would be fun if you're heading out and your friends are addicted to constantly checking their phones).
As you progress, you can earn rewards for focus time and other activities which give you a boost in leaf coins. At the moment, I'm trying to use the app for 30 days in a row. (Harder than it sounds!)
Changing Phone Habits
Using the Forest App has successfully changed my phone habits for the better. Now, I specifically dedicated time away from using my phone and as a result do a lot less time wasting activities. When I do use my phone, I'm concentrating on doing specific things that I need to do or that have banked up while I was away. This limits the time I spend aimlessly scrolling the Facebook newsfeed or surfing the web.
Overall, I think I have become more productive!
The downside is that if you want to do a weekend digital detox, then you may not want to return to your phone every 2 hours to plant your next tree.
Have you tried the Forest App?
I'd love to know what you thought, or if you think you might give it a try.
Head here for a review and strategy tips on Terrarium: Garden Idle App