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German Developer Saves 2000 Years of Life With Award-Winning App

Frederik Riedel Foto
© Apple

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During the pandemic, Berlin-based app developer Frederik Riedel noticed that his social media consumption was changing and that he was wasting far too much of his precious time reading meaningless streams. To discipline himself, Frederik developed One Sec (App Store link) and not only won an award at the "App Store Foundation Program", but helped to save already more than 2000 years of life from procrastination. Learn more about his story and how the app works.

According to the developer, the One Sec app managed to prevent around 500 million scroll events in two years. Or rather, the app was able to convince people to do something else, usually something more meaningful, instead of distracting themselves with social media. That is how we reached the 2,000 life years mentioned above.

Winners of the App Store Foundations Program 2023
The Apple App Store Foundations Program and the European winners for 2023. / © Apple

Apps have changed Frederik's life

Who doesn't often find themselves telling themselves that they should spend much less time on Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, and similar apps? I don't even want to judge anyone here—because I myself have fallen into the doom-scrolling curse often enough, or still do from time to time. Frederik Riedel doesn't proselytize either, but tells in a very sympathetic way about himself and why he developed One Sec not for others, but for himself.

To understand the whole story better, it's worth taking a look back at the beginnings of Frederik's career as an app developer. It was 2010 when he developed his first app and uploaded it to Apple's App Store. At that time, Frederik was just 15 years old. At that time, however, his app had nothing to do with productivity, but with the game Minecraft and matching tutorials.

It was the starting signal for something that would change his life forever. Frederik was not only one of 260 German developers to receive a WWDC scholarship as part of the App Store Foundations Program but in 2017 he was also given the opportunity to do an internship directly at Apple in Cupertino. All the impressions, experiences, and lessons he learned over the past few years, Frederik tells us in conversation, ultimately led him to throw his actual study plans overboard and study software development.

In the meantime, Frederik is not only able to make a living from his skills and early successes, but he has now been able to build a real business.

Social media eliminated as a time-eater

The pandemic then plunged Frederik into a crisis of sorts. He tells us how he suddenly found himself trapped in his apartment at home in Berlin and started filling his days scrolling and swiping through Instagram streams. Previously, he was a passionate climber and had—of course—developed a successful app for that as well. But during lockdowns, gyms were closed, so he had to find some other way to distract himself.

Frederik had realized that this time was irretrievably wasted. But everyone knows this: Out of habit, you open a social media app "just for a minute". One minute then very quickly turns into ten. To counteract this almost unconscious urge to open Instagram and other social media apps, Frederik developed a small program that actively asked him if he really wanted to open the app. And also why.

Amazingly, his consumption behavior changed drastically, and his screen time dropped significantly. In the meantime, this has also been scientifically researched. Together with the Max Planck Institute and the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Frederik authored a study that was able to show that people lost interest in an app over time by deliberately opening it*. Consumption of social media content dropped by almost 40%.

The App Store as the basis of success

The rest is history. Frederik decided during the pandemic to upload his app to the App Store and make it available to the store's roughly 650 million weekly visitors. This has paid off. One Sec has now been downloaded over a million times, collecting over 23,000 5-star ratings in the App Store.

"There's an app for everything"—for a long time, that was the guiding principle of the App Store, when apps were just getting started. So now, with One Sec there's also an app so we don't use other apps as much. That's a good thing, I'd say. Because who knows if there isn't a girl or boy somewhere wasting away too much time in some social media stream (and in the worst case, maybe even letting it negatively affect their self-esteem).

Frederik has already impressively demonstrated that other things, such as developing apps, are not only a lot of fun but can also have a lasting positive impact on a person's life.

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