Freedom is the most popular focus enhancing app. It has over 1,000,000 users and was even recommended by focus expert Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism. As you might expect from an app with such accolades, Freedom boasts a very comprehensive set of features:
- The ability to block distracting websites
- The ability to block apps on your ios and Android devices
- The option to block the entire internet
- The ability to synch your blocking across all of your devices
- Lock mode: which prevents you from ending a focus session early
- Scheduling tools
- It even has the ability to play coffee shop and other ambient noises to enhance your focus!
Comparing Freedom to On Topic, it might look like Freedom is the winner here. On Topic does not have many of the features that Freedom does (ios and android support, the ability to block apps, fancy coffee shop noises).
But On Topic does have a very powerful feature that Freedom lacks:
An AI powered content filter
This means that, as great as Freedom is, it still requires you to manually enter a list of sites you want to block. And there is no way to view relevant content on a site, while blocking distracting content on that same site. Freedom can block YouTube, but it can’t allow you to view all Calculus related YouTube videos, while blocking everything else on YouTube. Freedom can block Wikipedia, but it can’t allow you to read computer science related articles while blocking all other articles.
On Topic can
On Topic’s AI powered content filter allows you to say “show me everything on the internet related to my favorite topic(s), and block everything else”
This makes On Topic great for blocking the distracting parts of sites that contain both useful information and distractions (something that describes much of the internet: YouTube, Reddit, news sites and blogs).
On the other hand, Freedom is great for blocking sites that only contain distractions across all of your devices (block TikTok, block Instagram, block Facebook, block sites that rhyme with corn-hub etc).
So which one is better? Neither. They solve different (but overlapping) problems. A true focus master might use both: Freedom to outright block distracting apps, and On Topic to allow them to surf sites like YouTube and The New Yorker without getting distracted by videos and articles irrelevant to their areas of focus.