Flora & Forest Apps: A Comparison & In-Depth Look


If you’re like me, you may have already been happily using the Forest app, and then out of the blue, you hear about a similar app named Flora.

And now you wonder, with concepts so similar, how do the Forest and Flora apps compare?

The objective of both Flora and Forest apps are similar in that they both gamify productive time. That said, the major differences between the Forest and Flora app include pricing structure, timer features/functions and method of incentivising users when they use the app.

Beyond a general sense of how the Flora and Forest apps compare, you may want to know more about how exactly they are similar/different – that’s what we will go through next.

Main Similarities/Differences Between Flora & Forest App

Gamifying the timer experience

This is the biggest similarity between both apps – in that the centrepiece is how they have made the timer experience a game.

Focus for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 90 minutes and you get a in-game reward.

Fail to complete a session in the game and you receive a in-game penalty.

As similar as both apps are, you will find your experience starting from the download of both apps to be quite different.

The difference in pricing structure between Flora & Forest

Screenshot of Download page of Forest app
Download page of Forest app
Screenshot of Download page of Flora app
Download page of Flora app

What’s the difference in pricing between the Flora and Forest app? The Flora app is free to download while the Forest app costs about USD2.20 to download.

The differences in in-app purchases between Flora & Forest

Both apps offer in-app purchases, but we’ll first cover the in-app purchases available on the Flora app:

Screenshot of purchase screen of Flora Care on Flora app
Purchase screen of Flora Care on Flora app
Screenshot of purchase screen of Tours on Flora app
Purchase screen of Tours on Flora app
Purchase screen of Flora Price on Flora app
Purchase screen of Flora Price on Flora app

Flora offers 3 main types of in-app purchases – Flora Care, Tours and Flora Price.

Flora Care is a subscription-based purchase that enables you to grow real trees based on the amount of “focused” time you spend in the app.

Tours are where you pay for access to a new location where you can plant new virtual trees.

Flora Price is an in-app purchase you can set up that will be charged to your credit card should you fail to plant a tree – this amount if charged will be used to plant real trees.


Screenshot of purchase screen of Time Crystal on Forest app
Purchase screen of Time Crystal on Forest app
Screenshot of purchase screen of Sunshine Elixir on Forest app
Purchase screen of Sunshine Elixir on Forest app

Forest offers 2 main types of in-app purchases – Time Crystals and Sunshine Elixirs.

Time Crystals allows you to buy exclusive in-game items that cannot be bought with Forest coins (This is the Forest app’s main reward. More on this soon).

Sunshine Elixirs allow you to triple your Forest coin earnings for a period of time.

Flora Vs Forest app’s timer functionality

The core of what makes both apps great lie in how they make a traditional timer experience fun.

Yet, within this great similarity that they share, the Flora and Forest app contain stark differences when compared between each other.

Screenshot of Flora app's timer
Flora app’s timer





VS

Screenshot of Forest app's timer
Forest app’s timer

Here are the main unique features about the Flora app’s timer as compared to Forest:

  1. You can set a monetary price that you want to pay to plant a real tree should you kill your virtual tree.

    There is no similar feature where you can set up a monetary penalty for killing your virtual tree in the Forest app.
  2. You can set up break times that essentially turns the timer into one that allows for the Pomodoro Technique.

    You can’t set up break times in the Forest app.
  3. You can change the quote that will be on your screen throughout your time using the app by typing in the “What to focus on next?” box.

    You will have to go into the settings to change the quote(s) shown when the timer is in operation in the Forest app.
  4. You can pause the timer any time you want during the focus session.

    You can’t pause the timer in the Forest app. You can only cancel the planting of a tree which will cause the tree to wither.
  5. The minimum focus time in the Flora app’s timer mode is 10 minutes.

Here are the features unique to the Forest app timer as compared to Flora:

  1. You can toggle between timer or stopwatch mode.

    There is no stopwatch mode in the Flora app.
  2. You can toggle on/off deep focus mode (turning on the deep focus mode will mean that leaving the app will cause the tree to die).

    Although I’ve found some ways to bypass this, generally on the Flora app, if you leave the app, your tree will die. There were no settings I could find to change this.
  3. You can choose to count exceeded time in the timer mode (although in my experience with using the app, this feature doesn’t work too well).

    You can’t count time exceeded in the Flora app timer.
  4. The minimum focus time in the Forest app’s timer/stopwatch mode is 10 minutes.

Flora Vs Forest app’s system of reward & punishment

Flora rewards you for time spent focusing on the app by unlocking new trees and areas.

Forest rewards you for time spent focusing on the app with Forest coins.

These Forest coins allows you to either unlock new virtual trees or plant a real tree.

Screenshot of Flora app's roadmap for new trees/areas as reward
Flora app’s roadmap for new trees/areas as reward
Screenshot of Forest app "tree has grown" notification
Forest app “tree has grown” notification

Talking about both apps’ system of punishment:

There are many ways that you can “fail” to plant a virtual tree on the Flora/Forest app.

The ways you may “fail” to plant a virtual tree could include:

  • Leaving the app
  • Cancelling the planting of a tree before the stipulated time

When you “fail” to plant a tree, you will find that both Flora and Forest withers your tree.

Screenshot of "My Stories" in the Flora app
“My Stories” in the Flora app
Screenshot of a withered tree in the Forest app
A withered tree in the Forest app

While both apps wither your tree when you “fail”, the killed tree in Flora cannot be removed from “My Stories”.

Screenshot of deleting a record in Forest
Deleting a record in Forest

Contrary to the Flora app, any records in the Forest app, including a killed tree, can be removed with 60 Forest coins.

Other Differences Between The Flora & Forest App

What are some of the other differences between the Flora and Forest app?

Other differences between the Flora and Forest app include each app’s capacity to interact with friends in-app and its referral system.

Capacity to interact with friends in-app

The Flora app allows you to like/comment on your and your friends’ trees on the feed.

The app also allows you to plant trees together with your friends.

Screenshot of Commenting on a tree in the feed of the Flora app
Commenting on a tree in the feed of the Flora app
Screenshot of Joining a room in the Flora app
Joining a room in the Flora app

Screenshot of planting a tree together with your friends on the Forest app
Planting a tree together with your friends on the Forest app

The Forest app only allows you to plant trees together with your friends.

In this sense, the Flora app allows for more forms of interactions with your friends in the app as compared to Forest.

Referral system

For every referral that you do, you will get 500 Forest coins as reward.

On top of that, you can also expect to receive additional milestone rewards in the form of time crystals and the Pear Tree House.

Unlike the Forest app, there is no referral system for the Flora app. Probably because the app is already free.

How To Use The Flora App?

How to use the Forest app has already been covered in another article. I thought I’d do the same for the Flora app to cover some of the essentials as there were some features that were not covered in the Flora app’s tutorial.

So how to get started using the Flora app? Select the amount of focus time that you want to engage in and press start.

Other than just utilising the focus timer though, you can also set up the type of tree you want to plant, a monetary penalty should you fail to plant the tree, and more before you press the start button.

Basics of using the Flora app

screenshot of main screen of Flora app
Main screen of Flora app

Here are all the things you can set up before you press the start button in the Flora app:

  1. A monetary penalty should you fail to plant the tree
  2. Focus timer
  3. Break timer
  4. Quotes for this focus session
  5. Plant with friends/yourself
  6. Tags

How to set up tags/to-dos in the Flora app

In the Flora app, tags and to-dos are interchangeable.

Screenshot of To-dos in Flora app
To-dos in Flora app

You set up both tags and to-dos in your garden (the tick icon at the button), under the To-Dos tab.

It is best to set up your tags and to-dos before you start planting your tree.

You can colour code your tags/to-dos by tapping at your preferred colour in any of the round circular + icon.

Screenshot of setting up a tag/to-do in Flora
Setting up a tag/to-do in Flora

There are 5 things you need to input to set up a tag/to-do.

  1. Name
  2. Reminder
  3. Goals
  4. Reset Goal Progress
  5. Habit Tracker

To set up a tag, turn off reminder, goals and habit tracker. Set your goal progress to never.

To set up a to-do, turn on goals and goal progress.

An overview of all features on the Flora app

If you look at the bottom of your screen while you are in the app, you will see 5 icons. They are:

  • Feed
  • Friends
  • Your room
  • Your garden
  • More

Feed

Screenshot of Feed on Flora app
Feed on Flora app

In this page, you can see all the trees you and your friends have planted in a chronological order.

You can also comment, like and share on any of the updates.

Friends

Screenshot of friends page on Flora
Friends page on Flora app

Here is where you can see the various ways you can add friends in Flora:

  • QR code
  • From contacts
  • From Facebook

Your room

Screenshot of your room in flora app
Your room in Flora app

This is the main page of the Flora app.

Here is where you do your tree planting alone or with friends.

Your garden

Screenshot of your garden in Flora
Your garden in Flora

Here is where you

  • See how many trees you’ve planted or how much focused time you’ve spent.
  • Customise your profile/canvas image and your in-app name.
  • Set up your tags/to-dos.
  • Subscribe to Flora Care (by tapping on the right arrow icon).

More

Screenshot of the more page in Flora app
More in Flora

In addition to the latest Flora app news, you can find quite a few settings here.

You can also find the FAQs and tutorial here.

Reviewing Both Flora & Forest’s User Experience

Review criteria

To take a look at both Flora and Forest’s user experience, I’ve reviewed both apps based on these criteria:

  • Ease of use – could a young child use the app?
  • Flexibility – how well can the app fit your changing productivity goals and plans
  • Customisation – how much of the app can be made unique to you
  • Visualisation of data – how well can you analyse and come up with insights based on the time tracked on the app

A Review Of The Flora App

Flora Ease of use – 5/10

Screenshot of tutorial within the Flora app
Tutorial within the Flora app
Screenshot of main page of the Flora app
Main page of the Flora app

From the moment you download the Flora app, you will find yourself greeted with a tutorial. But this only covers basic aspects of the app.

I also thought that the tutorial could’ve provided more clarity because after going through the basic tutorial, I was greeted with the main page of the app that seemed to show quite a different picture than what was shown in the tutorial.

Starting to plant a tree is easy enough, there were also additional features such as “price” and “break timer” in the timer of the app that will take some time to understand.

In particular, attaching a “tag” (the button to the right of the “start” button) to the tree hasn’t been easy for me to figure out.

As I explored the app, I found “My Stories” and the “Feed” features to be distracting to my main goal of keeping focused.

Overall for ease of use with the Flora app, I’ve found that other than starting to plant a tree, I’ve spent a significant time trying to understand how to use the rest of the app.

Flora Flexibility – 6/10

In terms of making the app fit your productivity plans, the Flora app is flexible when you start the timer, but rigid when the timer is not running.

Screenshot of timer in the Flora app
Timer in the Flora app

For example, I like how the Flora app allows you to pause the planting of your tree whenever you want.

This way, you can get a more accurate sensing of how much focused time you’ve actually spent in a session.

I found the Flora app rigid in 2 ways – that it doesn’t allow you to delete a withered tree and that it has no option to enable leaving the app without killing the tree.

Not allowing the deletion of a record of a withered tree makes my planting record seem flawed even if the tree was a mistake in the first place.

As the app doesn’t allow you to leave the app without killing the tree, most of the time, there will be a notification that pops up telling you to go right back to the app or your tree will die.

This is not useful when my focused session requires the use of some apps on my phone.

Flora Customisation – 6/10

In terms of customisation, Flora allows you to make the app unique to you in 4 main ways:

  1. Name (name shown in-app)
  2. Avatar (main display picture that’s shown)
  3. Canvas (background picture shown on the “Garden” page)
  4. Quotes that are shown in a focus session

While it seems like there are quite a few things that can be customised in the Flora app, we’re also looking at the quality of these customisations as well.

In particular, I thought that the avatar, canvas and quotes customisation features could be better.

First, let’s talk about the avatar and canvas images:

For the avatar and canvas images, once you upload an image, you do not have an option to delete the image or revert back to the default image.

The developers may have forgotten to include these options, but in any case, I’ve found this restrictive and counterproductive to customising the app in the first place.

Next, let’s talk about the quotes customisation feature:

For quotes that are shown in a focus session, you have to type them in every time before you start the timer.

This got tedious quickly and made me avoid using this customisation feature entirely.

Flora Visualisation of data – 5/10

Screenshot of Stats in Flora app
Stats in Flora app

The visualisation of data can be found in your Garden under “Stats”.

It tells the story of the amount of time you’ve spent pursuing your various goals.

It splits up your focused time stats into daily, weekly, monthly and yearly time periods.

While the stats do tell you the basic information you need, I felt that it could give a more complete view of how I’ve spent my time.

The stats tell me how much focused time I’ve spent in different time periods but it doesn’t tell me what I spent my focused time on.

Beyond the basic information that the stats period, the time period where you can see the amount of focused time you’ve spent is also fixed.

For example, if you were to look at daily stats, you can only look at the stats of today, the same day last week, or yesterday.

The same can be said of the weekly stats where you can only look at your focused time this week and last week.

Flora overall rating – 5.5/10

Overall, I felt that the Flora app will do the job for anyone looking for an app to track their productive app.

Although the app does what it say it does, I felt that it only performs an average job based on what I felt was important for a productivity app in this genre.

A Review Of The Forest App

Forest ease of use – 7/10

Screenshot of Home Screen of the Forest app
Home screen of the Forest app

With a focus on the start button on the main screen of the app and a sliding timer selection, I found it easy to get started using the Forest app.

As easy as it is to get started using the Forest app, I found optimising the app for my use to take up more time.

Forest flexibility – 7/10

Customisations such as “Deep focus”, “Stopwatch Mode” and more make the Forest app adaptable to my changing productivity goals and plans.

“Deep focus” mean I can change whether leaving the app will cause my tree to whither.

“Stopwatch mode” allows me to start a focus session even when I’m unsure how much focus time I can spend on a task/project.

Need to use my phone in a focus session? All I need to do is to turn off “Deep focus”.

Have to rush for the next event but still want to put in some time on a task/project? I can use “Stopwatch Mode” to track my focused time.

These settings make it easy for the app to adapt to my goals and plans.

One limitation of the Forest app in terms of flexibility is that it doesn’t allow the pausing of a session once you’ve started it.

Although it doesn’t allow you to pause a session once you’ve started it, the withered tree resulting from cancelling a session can easily be deleted for a cheap 60 Forest coins.

Forest customisation – 8/10

Features such as “Custom phrases” and the ability to buy the virtual trees that you prefer makes the Forest app highly customisable to your tastes.

Screenshot of planting a virtual tree in the Forest app
Planting a virtual tree in the Forest app

“Custom Phrases” mean that I can change the phrases that will be shown when I plant trees based on what motivates me.

Thanks to the “Custom Phrases” option, I can include a quote that I love from Marcus Aurelius in my focus sessions.

Screenshot of store in Forest app
Store in Forest app

I love the ability to buy my favourite virtual trees in the Forest app with the Forest coins I’ve earned because it helps to create a “forest” that is uniquely mine.

Besides the above 2 features that allow you to customise Forest, there are also other ways you can customise the app like changing your profile picture in the app.

Really though, I think changing your profile picture and the other customisation options pales in contrast to being able to set up custom phrases and buying the trees that you want to plant.

Visualisation of data – 9/10

Screenshot of stats on Forest app
Stats on Forest app

I love the stats on the Forest app because you can see visually how many trees you’ve planted and how much time you’ve spent being focused.

You can choose any time period where you want to see your focused time.

You can also view the focused time you’ve spent based on the tags you’ve placed into each tree.

Screenshot of Exported excel file of trees planted in Forest
Exported excel file of trees planted in Forest

You can even export all the trees you’ve ever planted into an excel file.

Forest overall rating – 7.75/10

Overall, I do enjoy the Forest app for all that it offers. I’ve found that it particularly stands out in the customisations and visualisation of data.

Should You Go With Flora Or Forest?

So should you go with the Flora or Forest app? You should go with the Forest app as it can better help you with your productivity.

As we’ve already reviewed, the Forest app will likely provide a better overall experience in every aspect that matters.

There are a few caveats to this though, go with Flora if:

  • you want to gamify your productivity and don’t want this to cost you a dime.
  • you just want an app to track your focused sessions and don’t care much about the quality of the stats.

If the above 2 pointers do not apply to you, then please strongly consider the Forest app.

Although the Flora app is free, I’ve found that the Forest way of rewarding/penalising users works better for motivating me.

This is because the Forest way of rewarding users encourages me to maximise my focus time regardless of the amount of time spent on the app.

Being able to earn Forest coins and then having a choice to do what I want with it is gives me a sense of control that is valuable to me.

Even if I do not have any particular goal to spend the coins on, the accumulation of coins still feels good to me.

The Flora way of rewarding users seems to encourage me to do the minimum to get the reward and can be detrimental to my productivity goals.

If I plant a tree that I’ve already earned in the Flora app, there is no reward I can look forward to other than that I’ve planted another virtual tree in my garden.

Although the Flora app does allow for a pretty decent stats display, Flora loses out in how you can have a visual overview of your focused time.

The Forest app also provides more control to view the stats of the days you want.

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