First Impressions of Finch, the Self-Care Virtual Pet

I recently came across this app called Finch, which describes itself as your “self-care best friend.” It’s a cute cross between a CBT tool and a cute virtual pet, and I’ve found that combo to be extremely compelling for me. Though, I can understand why the aesthetic could turn a lot of people off.

In the past, I’ve written about how I’m generally not a fan of these types of apps, but I’ve been compelled to use this app for more than 2 days, so it must be doing something right. I think the main thing, at least for me, is that it’s not so concerned with tracking your mood over time, and more about tackling how you feel at the moment, whether that’s great, terrible, or anywhere in between.

Anyway, the basic idea of the app is you complete various activities—writing prompts, guided breathing exercises, short quizzes, etc.—to produce “energy” for your pet. When you’ve earned enough “energy”, you can then send your pet off on a little adventure to help it grow, and also earn virtual currency you can use to buy it some clothes.

The activities themselves are pretty varied, even with the app’s free version, which gives you access to just a handful from the total library of activities (I think the available activities change per day, but I could be wrong about that). But, for $5.99 a month, or $34.99 a year if you opt for the yearly subscription, you get access to every activity the app has to offer.

My daily routine with the app (if you can call using it for less than a week a “routine”) is to check in each morning. The app will ask me to rate how I’m feeling, and present me with various activities. I tend to gravitate towards the writing prompts, but this morning the app reminded me I had set up goals for today: reconnect with a friend, and do 5 sit-ups. I opted for the 5 sit-ups (8AM is too early to talk to anybody, ok!?), and Mocha, my pet, got a nice boost of energy.

Throughout the day, whenever I get that itch to look at my phone like the filthy millennial that I am, instead of checking Instagram or Reddit, I’ve been opening Finch to make a little progress on my daily activities and earn more energy for Mocha.

Moreover, in the evening, around 8PM, I’ll get a little notification asking me how I’m doing, and then prompt me again to rate my mood when I open the app. From there, I’ve generally been doing another writing prompt to reflect on the day.

One thing I think is great about the app that I don’t think other apps in this category do (at least, as far as I know, feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong) is provide sources for the science the app is based on. In the app’s settings, there’s an item labelled “Science Behind Finch” which links to various studies about the CBT techniques that make up the app’s activities.

Finally, I will say that I’ve been mostly using the free version, and I signed up for the yearly plan to get the 7-day free trial today, so I could write about it. There’s not much of a difference, the free plan is pretty generous, but if you want access to every activity then the subscription is something to consider.

However, I’m still evaluating whether the subscription is worth the money for me, and what would actually make it worth it is if I can commit to using it daily. As someone who’s pretty horrible at committing to this kind of thing (just look at my journal, but don’t actually it’s private!), it’s not a given that I will use it consistently. So perhaps the monthly plan would be a better deal for someone like me.

There’s also the very real “subscription fatigue”. It seems like everything these days has a subscription, and it seems impossible to keep track of them all. This is a topic that’s far beyond the scope of this blog, but it’s still something to consider.

Overall, I like Finch. However, I’m a sucker for gamification, so I might be a little biased. But if you’re also someone who buys into that concept, it’s worth trying out. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you at all, then I’d say avoid it.

If you’re in the former group and interested in trying out Finch, you can download the app for free on iPhone or Android. If you want to help me out, use invite code LTBFN4EQ1L. I don’t earn any real money from it, but it’ll give me points to buy little Mocha some clothes. 🙂

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