At Opal, we're building the best app to protect your time and your focus. Opal allows you to better schedule your days, block distracting apps and focus fully, on any device. Our app is available on iOS (iPhone) and starting today, Chrome as well.
Today we are interviewing Alex, Fullstack Engineer at Opal, to help us understand our journey on bringing Opal to Chrome.
Why are you bringing Opal to Chrome?
We know that distractions are everywhere, not just on your mobile device. Our gems mostly use a desktop when they work, and we wanted to provide a solution to block distractions at work.
We know that distractions are everywhere, not just on your mobile device.
Opal’s vision is to be the number 1 app to help people reclaim time and focus on all devices. Bringing Opal to Chrome can help our gems do their best work.
Moving Opal to the desktop with our Chrome extension is only the first step in this plan: the next steps will be to move Opal to lots more devices, from phones and desktops, to smart TVs. Anywhere that has distractions, we want Opal to be there to help our Gems.
We know that lots of people use their mobile devices for leisure time, and most people use the desktop for work, so we wanted to provide a solution for blocking distractions at work.
Chrome is the top used browser in the world today, so it makes sense to bring Opal to Chrome first, but our plans are to make the extension available in all major browsers, including Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Safari.
What are the biggest challenges of this project?
We want to keep a coherent experience that is uniquely Opal across all devices.
I would say the unified experience between the iOS app and the Chrome extension, as people use their mobile and desktop devices very differently. For example, Gems (that is how we call our users!) want to block different distractions between the mobile and desktop, and we want to accommodate for these differences as well as keep a coherent experience that is uniquely Opal across all devices.
One of the biggest technical difficulties was synchronizing our Gems’ sessions, schedules and breaks from the iOS app to the Chrome extension, but after lots of hard work we now have this feature live and ready. Download opal.so to see this in action!
What is the blue sky vision for bringing Opal to Chrome?
We want Opal will help you stay on track on desktop through smart suggestions, in-page blocking and focus together features.
We can do a lot more than just block websites with many exciting Chrome only features.
In terms of Focus, not all parts of websites are bad. For example, Facebook chat is good for keeping up with friends, but Facebook feed is a distraction we know people struggle with.
So our plan is for the Chrome extension to be able to block specific distractions on websites, such as the ability to turn the Facebook feed on or off while still using the rest of the site. We have a couple of accountability features in mind like the Buddy system that will allow you to notify friends if you get too distracted, which will allow to stay on track together knowing you have that accountability.
We also plan to add focus rooms which will provide a social factor to your focus time, you will be able to focus with people from all around the world, block distractions and achieve your goals together. To name a few more: Interventions, Opal will help you stay on track by suggesting blocking sites. Also, if you want to block an app that's not on our block list, here's a simple solution.
As we are convinced focus is productivity, Opal plans to provide a task list that will allow you to keep track of your day so you can plan your tasks and Opal will give you everything you need to achieve your goals!