18/08/2015 12:54 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

Log On, Log Off: Stay In Touch Without Letting Your Phone Take Over Your Life


Hand up if you've been berated by a loved one for always being on your phone? Safe bet is you have your left hand raised because your smart phone is in your right. Technology can be blamed for fewer and fewer encounters IRL because we are all too busy staring at a screen, and rightly so; stats provided to us by Facebook revealed that they have 11 million Australian active users daily, and 9.3 million Aussie users each day on mobile. When you take into account that’s only one platform out of the myriad sites and apps vying for our attention, personal interaction is bound to suffer.

But it's not all iPad addicted toddlers and screen obsessed adults; finding ways to show technology who’s boss can actually enhance relationships and minimise device time. Here's how:

Apple FaceTime.An obvious one, but one that connects you in a much more personal way than a call. Plus, if you’re overseas on hotel WiFi it won’t incur cellular charges. Skype and Viber are similar and compatible on all smartphones, while Google Hangouts is the closest equivalent on Android, with the ability to have multi-person conversations.

Shared Calendars. Apple and Google both offer shared calendar capabilities, so you never have to argue about whether or not you told your partner about an important event they ‘forgot’. does the same and works on Windows, Mac, andoid and iPhone. The same can be done with an iCloud reminder list; great for collectively combining that evening’s grocery list.

Share playlists in Apple Music.If you’re lucky enough to share the same taste in tunes, choose a running playlist and head out together for a workout where you’ll stay in synch. You know what they say about couples who train together.

Apple Watch. Surprisingly the Apple Watch, if used in the way it was intended, will actually have you using your iPhone less. Set up alerts so that only VIP emails come through to your wrist, meaning you're not constantly checking your phone during meetings to see if the boss needs you. On a personal level, connect with loved ones by using the array of digital touch offerings, like sending your heartbeat (perfect for when there's no time for text), drawing a sketch (hours of fun), or setting a secret tap so you can discreetly send signals to your other half when it's time to leave a dying party.

Health App. Hopefully a function you’ll never need to use, the Health App lets you update your medical ID so that in the event of an accident, emergency services can locate your essential health info and call your emergency contact from your locked screen.

Find My Friends. A clever way to share your location with loved ones, Apple’s Find My Friends function combines information from your Maps and Friends, so you can see where everyone is and how to get there.

Theatre.An application that works on PC, MAC, Android, Playbook and Samsung Galaxy tabs (among other platforms), watch movies or TV with loved ones at the same time, no matter where they are in the world. You’re basically creating a living room or movie theatre on your screen.

LokLok. A treat for Android only at this stage; use your lockscreen to create a shared message board between a group of friends. Leave a note for others so it’s the first thing they see when they reach for their phone. Whenever someone changes their lock screen it’ll be automatically updated on everyone else’s.

Avocado. Created specifically for couples, this app is a chat room on steroids. Send messages privately, doodle and add stickers on photos, and create calendars and lists. Designed for iPhone and iPad.