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New App Sheds Light on Phone ­sage

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The image on the left shows an overview of minutes used versus the breakdown on the right that shows how much time is spent on each app.

A new app allows users to monitor and analyze their use of a mobile device.

Credit: Northwestern University Newscenter

Northwestern University Ph.D. student John Rula and his adviser, professor Fabian Bustamante, have developed an application dubbed AppT that enables users to monitor and analyze their mobile device usage.

AppT runs every time the phone's screen is on, and every 1.5 seconds it records which app is in the foreground and then displays visualizations to show which apps have been used, how frequently, and for how long. Because AppT has very low demands and does not run when the screen is off, it does not drain the phone's battery.

Rula used AppT for a year and found he used a chat and messaging app more than 11,000 times over that period, averaging about 23 times a day. "This constant distraction was terrible for my productivity," he says.

AppT helps people monitor their own behaviors, but Bustamante and Rula believe the tool also can be used to potentially improve future applications and mobile devices. "Knowing my usage patterns, my phone could prepare my next app to use, so I don't have to swipe 10 screens to get to it," Bustamante says. "Users could pre-load what those apps need over the network or delay updates perhaps knowing that I will walk into my home Wi-Fi shortly."

From Northwestern University Newscenter
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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