Google releases three Digital Wellbeing apps to curb smartphone addiction

  • Smartphones
  • Wednesday, 22 Jan 2020

The Envelope app turns a user’s smartphone into a feature phone, but first you will have to print out a PDF, fold it into an actual envelope, and insert your phone. — Special Projects

Google introduced three experimental apps to help users curb their smartphone addiction.

Envelope turns a user’s smartphone into a feature phone, but first you will have to print out a PDF it provides, and fold it into an actual envelope.

The app gives you two options – only allow your phone to receive/answer calls or turn it into a camera for taking photos and recording videos but without the screen.

Pick one and insert the phone into the envelope you just created, and resist from taking it out.

Currently it’s only available for the Google Pixel 3a, as the buttons on the printed paper only corresponds to this device.

It’s an open-source project on GitHub, so if you are a programmer you could try modifying it for your phone.

Design studio Special Projects, which made the app for Google, said people who wished to reduce phone usage bought a feature phone or a special casing, so it wanted to offer a free solution.

The other two apps aim to visualise the amount of time you spend on your phone, probably aiming to serve as a wake up call.

Activity Bubbles is a wallpaper that displays bubbles to represent how long your phone was unlocked and used.

Each unlock creates a new bubble, and the longer you use the phone, the bigger the bubble will grow.

By the end of the day, the user’s wallpaper will be covered with bubbles representing each session of phone usage.

Screen Stopwatch takes a less abstract approach – it shows a counter that goes up whenever the phone is in use.

While the phone is locked, the counter stops, and shows in hours, minutes and seconds how much the phone has been used that day.

Both the apps are available on the Google Play store.
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