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Google has launched what it calls Digital Wellbeing Experiments. These are apps designed to help you reduce your smartphone use. While installing more apps in order to spend less time on your phone sounds strange, it actually makes perfect sense.
You’re Probably Addicted to Your Phone
We’re all spending too much time on our smartphones. And that time spent mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, watching random videos on YouTube, and playing addictive mobile games could be put to much better use. Which is where Google comes in.
In October 2019, Google launched its Digital Wellbeing Experiments. The initiative is described as “a platform to encourage designers and developers to build digital wellbeing into their products”. And at the time of writing there are 10 Digital Wellbeing apps to try.
Google’s Digital Wellbeing Apps
Here are all of Google’s Digital Wellbeing apps designed to reduce your smartphone use:
Unlock Clock: This is a Live Wallpaper that counts the number of times you unlock your phone in a day. You could try setting a limit to stop yourself from opening your phone at every opportunity.
We Flip: This is designed to help groups put their phones away and communicate with each other. You all join together and promise not to touch your phones. And as soon as someone does, the session ends.
Desert Island: This app makes you choose the apps that are the most important to you. Once chosen, your challenge is to go a full 24 hours only using those apps, and none of the other, more distracting apps.
Morph: This organizes your apps into different modes, such as Home and Work. Your phone will then automatically adapt to what you’re doing at that time, putting the apps you need front and center.
Envelope: Envelope asks you to seal your phone into a series of envelopes. Each one makes you focus on just one basic function, such as making and receiving calls, or shooting photos and videos. Envelope is currently only available for the Google Pixel 3a.
Screen Stopwatch: This shows you just how long you use your smartphone for every day. Which most of us underestimate. Every time you unlock your phone, the stopwatch starts counting, shaming you into doing something more productive.
Post Box: This app enables you to get your notifications delivered in batches at a time that suits you. This will help minimize distractions, and prevent you from checking your phone every five minutes.
Activity Bubbles: This gives a visual clue as to what your smartphone usage looks like. Every time you unlock your phone, a bubble is created, and the longer you use your phone for, the larger the bubble grows.
Paper Phone: This app enables you to replace your actual phone with a paper phone for one day. You choose the important elements, and the app will print out a paper copy. Allowing you to enjoy a digital detox.
Anchor: This Chrome extension is designed to make you more aware of infinitely scrolling down websites. Anchor visualizes your scrolling as a deep sea dive, with the screen getting darker until you finally hit rock bottom.
How to Create More Digital Wellbeing Experiments
Google is launching more Digital Wellbeing Experiments all of the time. And it’s also inviting developers and designers to create their own. So, if you want to create your own you can get links to the Hack Pack and open source code on Experiments With Google.
We wholeheartedly recommend trying to spend less time on your smartphone. And if Google’s Digital Wellbeing Experiments help you do that, they’re a good idea. And if you can’t stand to use it less, at least learn how to use your smartphone more productively.