My FOCI wearable review has been my most popular article (even receiving a Chinese translation). The long-awaited Android update should be rolling out soon – when it does, stay tuned for my follow-up thoughts on the new changes and features.
Android Update Delays
It’s been almost 10 months since the Android app was last updated.
FOCI owners first received word of an incoming update end of November 2020, with a targeted December release.
It was delayed: iOS received Update 18 on TestFlight (beta testing) in January, with a stable version of the app 2 weeks later.
Status on the Android update wasn’t mentioned again until February: as it turned out, the team had switched to a leapfrog software development strategy. App updates would be released alternating between the two app stores, with the next Android update being Update 19 instead of receiving Update 18 as planned.
Then it was delayed to late March/early April. Issues with bloatware were then reported in May, further delaying it to June. Finally on Monday, the Android update was finally announced to be released by end of this week (….hopefully).
I’d really been looking forward to reviewing the new features in the update and evaluating improvements to the AI. It’s been frustrating to see Android updates being continually pushed back for over 6 months (to add insult to injury, iOS is likely to receive update 20 soon after).
New Features in a Nutshell
A summary of new features incoming in the new update are as follows:
- 4 times the performance of the previous FOCI app.
- Machine Learning upgrade boost: reads 150% more emotion data.
- Negative emotion analytics that evaluate risks of frustration, distractability, procrastination, burnout and anxiety that impact focus.
- Key cognitive metrics: mental performance, tension overload level metrics.
- Biofeedback linearity improvement which makes it easier to tune into deep focus.
- Machine Learning anti-skewing improvement: less susceptible to skewing.
“The main product improvement that we appropriated from software update 20 is this: fluid emotion ball upgrade, which is much more intelligent, thanks to both the machine learning upgrade and biofeedback linearity upgrade. You can learn to control it, change its color. It now has biofeedback capacity built-in. The control itself is fun and it would help you learn to consciously control your emotion state and attention.”TinyLogics Team, FOCI Monthly Newsletter (May 2021)
The new features I’m most interested in are the negative emotion analytics and key cognitive metrics, as I’m most intrigued to discover how these new metrics will allow users to further improve their focus. Currently the app is limited to ‘distracted’, ‘stressed’ and ‘fatigued’ states.
The accuracy of measuring these negative emotions could be a game changer in terms of the product functionality: if these work as advertised, could yield benefits in monitoring and managing mental health as well.
Most intriguing perhaps is the ability to measure procrastination. While the other negative emotions are closer to feelings (especially frustration and anxiety), procrastination is closer to an action than it is an emotional state (the act of delaying or postponing a task/set of tasks).
Application Bug: Daily Performance View
An annoying bug that has appeared in the app for the last 2-3 months: it’s no longer possible to view performance of the other days in the same week (only the current one is visible).
Logs from the previous week and beyond are still viewable, but it’s no longer possible to compare your performance of difference days in the current week.
I’ve tried to clear the cache, app data, and reinstalled several times to no avail. I’ve also sent feedback to the developers without luck.
Daily use in my case hasn’t really changed. I still wear it daily, and make sure that it’s charged so my focus is continually measured. The battery life is still pretty solid, and I haven’t run into any major issues (except for the bug).
It has been particularly useful during my study sessions for finals. I experimented further with the Deep Work feature to find the most effective time duration of work sessions. I found that for studying and completing assignments that I tend to work most effectively in 20 minute work sessions (Pomodoro mode settings).