Time-locked apps in Zapier

The anti-smartphone movement is upon us. The future? Apps that only work at certain times. Build them in Zapier.

Greg Isenberg loves spicy takes. 

This one about the anti-smartphone movement got me thinking.

How would you build an app that only works during certain hours?

I decided to build a time-locked app in Zapier. It’s called “The Dopamine Detox” and displays a new quote, soothing painting, and classical song for you one hour each day. 

Go ahead, register to take a dopamine break when the clock strikes 12.

Here’s how it’s built.

Open 1/7

You have one hour every day. That’s it. 

If you miss the window, you miss your detox. Don’t miss the window. 

To build this in Zapier, use two tables:

  • Registered
  • Active

Registered holds all registered users. Active only holds users when the app is active between 12-1pm CST. 

There are two Zaps:

  • On
  • Off

The On Zap triggers at 12pm and looks at all users in the Registerd table and adds them to the Active table, adds them as users to The Dopamine Detox app, and sends them a notification email. 

The Off Zap triggers at 1pm and looks at all users in the Active table and deletes them and removes them from The Dopamine Detox app.

How users register and access the app

There are two interfaces that power the app:

  • Register
  • App

The Register interface is open to the public and has a simple form for a user to register their email address which automatically gets added to the Registered table. 

The App is locked down to managed users. If you haven’t registered and it’s not between 12-1pm CST, you can’t access the app. Because at any other time, all users have been removed.

The App itself is intentionally simple. It has a title, an inspiring quote, an embedded Spotify song, and a beautiful image. 

Hitting the Zapier limit

Will you ever need to build something like this? Who in the world knows. Greg seems to know. 

But it’s possible with Zapier. 

Except for one thing. 

I pushed Zapier to the limit with this one. It’s missing one critical feature: the ability to automatically swap out the quote, song, and picture each day.

I’d have to manually do this. Which, I’m sorry, I don’t plan to do. 

In an ideal world, I would populate a Zapier table with a whole bunch of quotes, Spotify embed code, and uploaded images and then create a Zap to swap them out in the interface. But, we still don’t have Zaps as page sources. 

Someday.

To recap:

  • Time-locked apps may be the future
  • Build one in Zapier with two tables, two interfaces, and two Zaps
  • Zaps as page sources would make this app fully functional

That’s all for this week!

Happy Building,

Bryce

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