Take-a-break

v2.0:

  • Semi-automatic GPS. Reminders to de/activate GPS.
  • Help tab added.
  • Support web page.
  • UI improvements.
  • Minor bug fixes.

What it does

Take-a-break enables your iPhone (iOS 5.0 and above) to notify you when you have been inactive for a certain amount of time.

E.g. if you work at a desk and find you get so engrossed in your work that you forget to get up and take a break occasionally, this app can help to remind you.

How it works

It works by using the GPS and motion sensors on the iPhone in order to detect movement. It then works out how long it was since it last detected you moving and if this is longer than the time you specified in the settings, it will notify you.

Working in the background

In order for the app to work when it is in the background (i.e. you are using other apps or you have switched the screen off) it relies on the GPS.

NB This means that you have to set the GPS switch to “On” in the Settings tab.

Please also note that since this app uses the GPS in order to continue working in the background, this will affect your battery usage.

For this reason it is recommended that you switch the GPS on and off around periods where you wish to use the app.

Switching the app on between the hours of 9a-5p seems to leave enough battery life for the rest of the day.

Settings tab

Active switch

This is the on/off switch for the app. If you want to make sure the app is not running, set this to off. Note that all the other buttons become greyed out and unusable.

Always switch

This switch is used to set whether or not the app is on all the time (when active) or whether it should use the Profiles settings (see below).

If you wish to use the profiles then set this to off.

Setting this switch to on will mean movement detection and notification can happen at any time. This might not be the preferred behaviour if you want to avoid being notified in the evening or during the night when you might be forgiven for remaining stationary for several hours.

Parameters

Note: All the sliders can be incremented or decremented by pressing the left and right hand sides of the slider respectively.

E.g. to decrease the “Idle time” press to the left of the “Idle time” slider – where the label “Idle time” is.

Parameter: idle time

This is a key setting as it is the maximum time you want to remain stationary.

E.g. if you want to be reminded to move when you have been stationary for over 10 minutes then set the Idle time parameter to: 10

The iPhone will periodically check your location and orientation in order to check if you have moved. If you have moved it will quietly note this. If you have not moved it will work out how long it was since you last moved and if this is longer than your Idle time then it will notify you.

Parameter: Poll time

This is how long it should wait between checking for movement.

E.g. if you set this to 5 minutes then it will only check for movement (and possibly notify you) every 5 minutes.

Setting this to a larger value will mean that you will be notified less frequently. I.e. if you are notified that you have not moved in a while but you still don’t move, it will be another 5 minutes (in this example) before you are reminded again.

Parameter: sensitivity

This parameter sets how sensitive the app is to movement.

E.g. if you set the sensitivity to “Fine” then even very small movements will be counted as you moving. Remember: it is the iPhone moving that is counting as you moving and so if this setting is too fine the app may think you are moving just because you bumped your desk.

Similarly if you set the sensitivity to Coarse then even large movements may not be noticed as movement. You may have to walk several metres to be noticed.

The default setting of 5 will probably work for most people but can be set to allow for different users’ needs.

If you’d like to get a feel for the sensitivity you can use the “Test” button in the History tab (see below).

Profiles

Profiles comprise two switches set to standard working hours.

When these switches are on the days and times specified are used to check whether or not to notify you about lack of movement.

E.g. if it is 4.50pm on a week day and you remain stationary then you will be notified. However if you continue to remain stationary past 5pm the notifications will stop and from then on (until the next active profile time) you will not be notified about inactivity.

NB at present there is no automatic way to activate and deactivate the GPS automatically based on these times. However if your profiles are switched On they you will be reminded at the beginning and the end of the profile periods. You should use these notifications to turn the GPS on or off as is appropriate.

E.g. If you have the weekday profile on and it is a weekday, at 5pm you will notified of the profile change and given the option to change the GPS setting. You should click “Turn GPS: Off”.

The next morning (assuming it is still a work day) you will be notified of a profile change. You can then switch the GPS back on.

GPS Switch

This switch activates or deactivates the GPS.

NB This setting is required to be on for the app to work while in the background.

See “Working in the background” above.

History tab

The History tab is mainly used to check that the app is working for you and to calibrate the sensitivity.

It shows a history of your movements and the time.

You can check the apps sensitivity settings by pressing the “Test” button. This will force the app to check if you have moved since your last movement.

E.g. you can move the iPhone various distances and press test to see if the app can detect the movement. This will help you to choose a suitable sensitivity.

Help tab

The help tab will show this web page. To ensure that you are reading the latest help, you can press the refresh button on the top left of the screen.