I’ve been checking out Portal for the last couple of weeks, integrating it into my day and I have to say that it’s been helping me with with distractions and focussing in work.
The app is an interesting combination of features that are focussed on your wellbeing and letting you escape to different surroundings using an immersive soundscape.
What I’ve found is using the Focus mode, picking a portal (like Japan above) and listening to the environment lets me cut out background sounds and get to my task rather than being distracted by music. As much as I do love music, sometimes it’s just nice to sit in a calming environment when the pressure is on. It is also a good way to unwind after a rough or busy day, just close your eyes and relax. In total there are 44 portals in total so you should be able to find something that fits with your current mood.
The app is a breeze to use once you get used to each of the controls on screen and you can see that the UI is well laid out and a lot of thought has gone into the design. This also applies to the screen once you enter one of the portals, like in my screenshot above. You can choose to display the background with a time but I just like to have the beautiful wallpaper on my iPhone whilst I chill out. If I’m focussing I just ignore it and treat it like I’m listening to some background music.
Where this app really shines though is in its spatial audio support.
There are quite a few portals that have been created with spatial audio in mind and if you are using headphones capable of hearing it, it’s really an amazing experience. I found that after getting used to spatial audio soundscapes I didn’t want to go back to a static stereo one, they are that good.
The other area of that app that I have been using is the breathing exercises that are simple (non-guided) that for me as someone that hasn’t been able to stick to a daily practise are great when I just want to take a few minutes to calm down.
One area that I haven’t been able to test out however is the integration with smart lighting systems such as Hue, HomeKit and Nanoleaf. This looks a really good addition to the app and I imagine would go a long way to making you feel like you are there. If you have smart lighting then download and give it a go, I imagine it would be a great way to unwind (and let me know how you get on).
Portal is a wellbeing app with a difference in the way that it combines several methods of relaxing in one place, it’s created by a team that obviously cares about good app design, the environment around us and the wellbeing of its users.
The app is free with in app purchases ($9.99 a month or $49.99 a year).