Offtime: block communication on Android to avoid distraction

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 7, 2014
Updated • Oct 7, 2014
Google Android

I barely look at my Android phone throughout the work day unless I have to make a call or get a SMS but some of my friends seem to use their devices nearly all the time.

These new ways of communicating and being entertained all the time can be quite distracting at times which is not always a good thing.

If you have a work deadline for instance or need to finish reading a book for class, you may want to block all those distractions for the time being.

While it should be easy enough to put the phone aside for the time being, it appears to be difficult for some.

The basic idea behind Offtime is to block off all or at least most communication so that you can concentrate on whatever task is ahead of you or just relax without being constantly distracted by a device.

The app ships with a selection of profiles such as focused work, unplugging or family, and an option to create custom profiles.

Each profile can block or allow the following:

  1. Notifications.
  2. Calls & SMS.
  3. App access.

It is possible to exclude contacts from being blocked. This can be useful to be available for emergencies, for your boss, or for any other person that you always want to be available for.

The same exclusions are available for apps but with the difference that mobile data is disabled during off-time so that the majority of communication apps won't work for example. Update: It is possible to keep the Internet connection enabled after all.

Offtime displays frequent contacts and recently used apps first but can display all of them so that you can make a selection using all contacts and apps installed on the device. A message is sent to mobile callers that are blocked.

It is last but not least necessary to set a period of off-time. This is done with a slick dragging motion around the clock.  The app displays the start and end period of the "do not disturb" period as well as which apps are still accessible and which contacts are allowed to call or message you despite that.

The application requests many permissions. According to the developer they are used for two main purposes: the first is to control the core functionality of the app, that is the blocking of communication and apps. The second is to generate statistics about the phone's usage.

It provides you with information on how often the phone has been unlocked, how much time you sepnt with your phone on a given day, how many interactions you had, and computes an "offtime score" based on that.

Detailed insights become available after some time of use. The app displays the most popular contacts and apps to you, phone sessions, or how many SMS you write and how many calls you make on average per day .

This tracking can be disabled in the settings. There you can also disable the sending of anonymized statistics to the developers.

Closing Words

Offtime is for heavy phone users who need pressure to put the phone aside for a period of time. While it is certainly possible to bypass what the app provides, for instance by turning it off or uninstalling it, it may be enough to help some users.

Muting the phone may be sufficient for the majority though.

Now You: How do you handle this?

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  1. Albert said on August 18, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the tip Martin.

    It is for these kinds of posts that I follow GHacks.

    1. Mike Williams said on August 26, 2023 at 8:55 pm

      What’s up with the generic comment, are you a bot?

  2. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:23 pm


    Where on the planet is that still in use? I was forced to give up using my RAZRV3 years ago because 2G was phased out by AT&T.

    1. arbuz said on August 20, 2023 at 5:02 pm

      Everywhere 3G has been turned off and you don’t have LTE coverage, and believe me there are many developed countries where this is the case and if it weren’t for 2G you wouldn’t even be able to make a phone call.

    2. Doc Fuddled said on August 31, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      Maybe I missed it, but I don’t believe tha term “2G” is in the article. Perhaps you are referring to “AGM G2”??

  3. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:27 pm


    Your website has gone insane.

    When I the post button I then saw my comment posted on a different article page. When I opened this article again, it is here.

    1. Martin P. said on August 31, 2023 at 4:39 pm

      @Tachy @Martin Brinkmann

      ” Your website has gone insane. ”

      Same here. Has happened several times.

      1. owl said on September 1, 2023 at 3:42 am

        @Martin P.,

        For over two weeks now,
        I’ve been seeing “Comments” posted by subscribers appearing in different, unrelated articles.
        For the time being,
        it would be better to specify the “article name and URL” at the beginning of the post.

  4. Anonymous said on August 18, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    @tachy a lot of non-phone devices with a sim in them rely on 2G, at least here in europe.
    Usually things reporting usage or errors/alarms on something remote that does not get day to day inspection in person. They are out there in vast numbers doing important work. Reliable, good range. The low datarate is no problem at all in those cases.
    3G is gone or on its last legs everywhere, but this stuff still has too much use to cancel.

    Anyhow, interesting that they would put that in. I can see the point if you suspect a hostile 2G environment (amateur eavesdroppers with laptop, ranging up to professional grade MITM fake towers while “strangely” not getting the stronger crypto voip 4G because it is being jammed, and back down to something as old ‘stingray’ devices fallen into the wrong hands).

    But does this also mean that they have handled and rolled out a fix for that nasty 4G ‘pwn by broadcast’ problem you reported earlier this year? I had 4G disabled due to that, on the off chance that some of the local criminals would buy some cheap chinese gear, download a working exploit and probe every phone in range all over town in the hope of getting into phones of the police.

  5. Andy Prough said on August 19, 2023 at 3:04 am

    >”While most may never be attacked in stingrays, it is still recommended to disable 2G cellular connections, especially since it does not have any downsides.”

    The downside would be losing connectivity. I spend a lot of time way out in the countryside where there’s often no service or almost none. My network allows 2G, and I need it sometimes. I have an option on the phone to disable 2G, I may do that when I’m in the city and I have good 5G connectivity, but not out in the country.

    I would imagine that the stingray exploits, like most of the bad things in this world, are probably things you will run into in the crowded big cities.

  6. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 3:40 am

    I stopped using it in a mobile (Wi-Fi line) environment, so I’m almost ignorant of the actual situation,
    But the recent reality in Japan makes me realize that “the infrastructure of the web is nothing more than a papier-mâché fiction”.

    It is already beyond the scope of what an individual can do.
    What we should be aware of is the reality that “governments and those in power want to control the world through the Web”, and efforts to counter (resist and prevent) such ambitions are necessary.

  7. Anonymous said on August 26, 2023 at 9:27 pm

    Why do you want people to disable the privacy features? Hmmmmm?

  8. Anonymous said on August 27, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Now You: do you plan to keep the Ads privacy features enabled?

    I’d like to tell you, but apparently if you make a post critical of Google, you get censored. * [Editor: removed, just try to bring your opinion across without attacking anyone]

  9. Tachy said on August 27, 2023 at 5:15 am


    You website is still psychotic. Comments attach to random stories.

  10. John G. said on August 28, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    @Martin please do fix the comments, it’s completely insane commenting here! :[

  11. ECJ said on August 28, 2023 at 5:37 pm


    The comments are seriously messed up on gHacks now. These comments are mixed with the article at the below URL.

    And comments on other articles are from as far back as 2010.

  12. Naimless said on August 29, 2023 at 12:57 am

    What does this article has anything to do with all the comments on this article? LOL I think this Websuite is ran by ChatGPT. every article is messed up. Some older comments from 2015 shown up in recant articles, LOL

  13. Paul Knight said on August 31, 2023 at 3:35 am

    The picture captioned “Clearing the Android Auto’s cache might resolve the issue” is from Apple Carplay ;)

  14. Anonymous said on August 31, 2023 at 9:57 pm

    How about other things that matter:
    Drop survival?
    Screen toughness?
    Degree of water and dust protection?

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