A fun, playful take on focus

Price: $1/£1
Version: 1.0.2
Size: 26.2 MB
Platform: iPhone/iPad
Developer: Fancy Ventures

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What do you need to cure your addiction to phones and apps? Another app on your phone, obviously! Donut Dog is a playful, colorfully designed app that rewards your sessions of unbroken concentration with… virtual donuts. Presented by “Focus,” a dog that instructs you how to use the app, the goal is to ensure he stays fed with sugary treats. You do that by earning a donut for each ten-minute window you don’t use your phone.

But does it work? Can it work? Ironically, the app itself uses the kind of addictive mobile gaming techniques that it’s presumably trying to break you from. Genius, or part of the problem?

Donut Dog rewards you often

Firstly, the app is a lot of fun to use. It’s silly, and it’s playful. And is clearly aimed at a younger audience. Those looking to free up some time to get back to those gosh-darned accounts that simply won’t do themselves will probably want something a little less, well, childish. In many ways, getting kids to concentrate on their homework is a good thing, but we do question whether the audience it’s aimed at should even have a phone, let alone need to cure an addiction to it.

But audience aside, it’s a simple app too. You can get started quickly whenever you open the app simply by tapping start. Then a counter will start, keeping track of each donut you earn. Once you hit stop, your donuts go into your profile which you can later use to buy more challenges – specific time goals – or different, rarer donuts.

Mmmm… donuts.

It’s all good fun, but we do wonder whether the Venn diagram between fun and productivity even has a middle ground. Too much fun: diminished productivity.

Though if you find it, this game might give you a little more entertainment during the downtime you’ve allowed yourself. The app keeps track of your “streaks” – how long you go without breaking your concentration, and how long you’ve spent concentrating.

So how does it know you’re concentrating and not using your phone? This took us a while to understand. It seemed that you could simply hit the timer, then carry on using your phone and go back and it was still running. But in the settings there’s an option to turn this off. The “Anticheat” setting means the timer will automatically stop if you shut the app and do something else on your phone. We wonder why this isn’t turned on by default.

There are plenty of challenges and goals to conquer

Overall, it does feel like Donut Dog is lacking a little in productivity tools and is aimed in general at an audience that wouldn’t necessarily need to be tracking their focus in this way. Some more interesting features that could bring it to life is a focus on specific areas of productivity. Many use their devices as a work tool these days, so features to track other elements like social media use could prove more useful.

Right now, this fun, well-made, and well-designed app may not have a big enough audience to sustain it. If, however, you like the sound of collecting cartoon donuts every time you knuckle down and get to work, then don’t let our “it’s for kids” conclusion put you off. Child or not, a reward system like this could be just what you need to stay productive!

Review: Donut Dog – Gamify your concentration
A fun, unique and enjoyable app - but will it find its audience?
For
  • Great design
  • Pretty fun
Against
  • Too easy to cheat
  • Not particularly focused
3.5Overall Score