AppMonday: Pause

In a hurried world like our own, taking a breather can be harder than you might expect. There’s so much to do and so little time, but those little moments where you just think about nothing are more or less a necessity.

Sometimes you just need to think of yourself, and sometimes you just need to take a break, even if it’s a small one.

That’s the general idea behind “Pause”, a slightly unconventional relaxation app from the team that made “Monument Valley”, a puzzle game that was even featured on the Netflix hit, “House of Cards”.

Pause isn’t a puzzle game, though, and it’s not your average way to take a break.

Instead, it is at once about staying focused on doing nothing, using the movements of your finger and a minimalist and ambient soundtrack to keep you on track to doing so little that you relax for more than a moment, possibly to the point where you managed to recharge yourself and your circuits.

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The app is pretty easy to work out and even offers instructions as you start, merely asking you to touch a spot of colour on screen that looks like an ink droplet. From here, you keep holding and touching the ink droplet, moving your finger very slowly on the screen. As you do this, the ink blob increases in size while the ambient soundtrack increase, almost as if the ink and sound were swallowing you whole, enveloping you in their own simplicity so that no one could or would dare bother you.

As your ink droplet starts to swallow the screen, Pause asks you to close your eyes, and from there you just keep going until the app is done with a session and rings a chime and your session is over.

It’s a simple action combined with a simple soundtrack, and one that developers UsTwo has said is proven to lead you to a calmer state of mind, something the team backs up with research and an electroencephalogram or “EEG”, a machine used to test electrical activity on the brain.

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Testing Pause, we’re reminded of minimalist writing applications like “Ommwriter Dana” which offers up a space to collect your thoughts, a background of something simple and slightly blurred and abstract, and a minimalist soundtrack to keep your thoughts well and truly on the task at hand.

Pause isn’t about writing, though, and merely sits on the same relaxation idea, getting you to take the same sort of breather that a five- or ten-minute break might do, except with a phone.

As to whether it works, Pause depends entirely on if you respond to this sort of calming concept, which we’re led to believe is a little like Tai Chi, albeit without the movement.

This reviewer didn’t feel calmed by it, and found it a little jarring to do in public, specifically because it asked him to close his eyes throughout the process.

That being said, the music is definitely calming, and if this sort of thing normally relaxed him, he could see it being useful, particularly since it can be done anywhere.

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Not everyone goes for this method of relaxation, and some of us have a cup of tea, a piece of white toast with a small amount of butter scraped on, or even just a good solid writing session where you don’t do anything other than focus on your writing.

But if you’re having troubles relaxing for even a short amount of time and need a way to take control of it, Pause is definitely worth checking out, especially since you just need your phone (iOS or Android) and a pair of ear- or headphones. Easy.

Pause is available now for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and Android now for around $4.