How to Set App Time Limits and Block Apps on Android
Spending way too much time on your Android device? Use a digital wellbeing app to track your app usage and set app limits. Want some peace of mind? Block specific apps for a bit with Focus mode.
Digital Wellbeing is Google’s screen time management feature. It’s available on Google Pixel phones, Android One devices (that run Android 9 Pie and higher), and a limited number of other phones. After you download the Digital Wellbeing app on your device, it shows up as a Settings item.
The Digital Wellbeing app monitors how much time you spend on your phone. It tells you how many times you’ve picked up your phone, how much time you’ve spent in a specific app, and how many notifications you’ve received today.
You can use this information to make decisions about how much time you spend on your smartphone. The app also gives you tools, like App Timer, to curb your usage.
With App Timer, you can restrict how much time you can spend in an app. For example, you can set it up so you only use YouTube 30 minutes per day.
To do this, either swipe down on the notification shade, and then tap the gear icon to open Settings (or open it from the app drawer). Next, tap “Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls.”
In the Dashboard, scroll down to the YouTube app and tap the hourglass icon next to it.
In the popup, set the time limit, and then tap “OK.”
When your usage time is up, the app will pause. Its icon on the home screen will be grayed out, and you won’t receive any notifications from it. The next day, the timer resets, and the app unlocks again.
Of course, you can always go back to the Digital Wellbeing app and extend or disable the timer whenever you like.
How to Use Focus Mode on Android 10
Android 10 comes with a built-in Focus mode. As app blocking features go, this one is still quite basic. All you can do is select a bunch of distracting apps to pause when you enable Focus mode.
It acts as a manual switch to block multiple apps simultaneously. At this writing, you can’t schedule apps to pause automatically at a certain time of day; however, this is possible with some third-party apps we cover below.
If you just need a quick switch to block apps, Focus mode will be helpful for you.
Open the Settings app and tap “Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls.”
Tap “Show Your Data.”
Here, tap “Focus Mode.”
Select the apps you want to pause when you enable Focus mode. Tap “Turn On Now” to enable Focus mode (you tap the same button to turn it off).
You can add a “Focus Mode” tile to the notification panel if you don’t want to go to the Settings app each time. To do so, open the notification panel and tap the Edit button (the one that looks like a pencil).
Drag the “Focus Mode” tile to the active tiles section.
Now, you can just tap the “Focus Mode” tile to enable or disable this feature.
Alternatives for Other Android Phones
As we’ve mentioned above, the Digital Wellbeing features are only available on a handful of Google Pixel, Android One, and other devices. Even on these, Focus mode in Android 10 is quite limited.
What if you want to use these features on other Android phones? Or what if you want to schedule Focus mode to block apps automatically at certain times? You can do both with third-party apps.
Stay Focused is a screen time management app that shows you how you use your device. It helps you limit your usage in multiple ways. You can set a daily or hourly usage limit, and either block apps for specific time intervals or based on the number of launches.
After you open the app, it asks you to grant Usage Access permission. Tap “Click to Grant” if you want to do this.
On this screen, tap “Stay Focused.”
Next, toggle-On “Permit Usage Access.”
You end up back in the app. Find the distracting app, and then tap the Padlock icon next to it.
You see all the available options here. Tap “Daily Usage Limit.”
In this screen, select the days of the week on which you’d like to enforce the limit, set the time limit, and then tap “Save.”
You return to the apps list screen. Select an app and, in the configuration screen, tap “Specific Time Intervals.”
From here, you can block an app during a specific time. Select the days of the week on which you’d like to enforce the limit, and then tap the plus sign (+) next to “In Intervals.”
In the popup, select the “From” and “To” times, and then tap “OK.”
Tap “Save.” Now, if you try to open the managed app outside the times you specified, the Stay Focused app throws up a splash screen that says you can’t access it.
You can use the “Specific Time Intervals” feature to create multiple schedules for the same app. For example, you can have one schedule for Monday through Friday, and another for the weekend. Tap “Add Schedule” from the configurations screen to add another schedule.
Stay Focused is a free, ad-supported app. You see banner and full-screen ads occasionally. If you upgrade to the Pro version, it disables ads and unlocks all features.
ActionDash is primarily a dashboard on which you can view your device’s screen time. It’s a good replacement for Google’s Digital Wellbeing app. If you unlock the Pro version for $7.99, you can access app limits and app blocker features.
ActionDash integrates with ActionLauncher and offers a better user experience when it comes to viewing and managing device usage. The app has a cleaner interface that’s similar to Google’s Digital Wellbeing feature.
After you install the ActionDash app and grant the app usage access permission, you end up on the app’s home screen. Tap “Get Plus” to unlock all the features.
When you have the Pro version of ActionDash, select an app from the device usage list, and then tap “App Usage Limits.”
Set the app limit, and then tap “OK.”
Go back to the ActionDash dashboard and tap “Focus Mode.”
From here, select the apps you want to add to the focus mode, and then tap “Turn On Now” to enable it.
You can also schedule Focus mode. Tap the Menu button (the three vertical dots) on the Focus mode screen.
Select “Focus Mode Schedules.”
You see multiple presets that are ready to go.
If none of the presets offer what you want, tap “Add Schedule” to create a new one.
Select the days, and start and end times. Tap “Back” to return to the “Schedules” screen.
You can now enable multiple schedules for Focus mode. You can also disable any schedule, although you have to wait 20 seconds to deactivate one you’ve just set.
ActionDash will block the app you selected automatically at the configured time, and whenever you exceed the app timer limit.
We can also help if you’d like to use similar features on your iPhone or iPad.