Google has a powerful suite of tools for digital wellbeing built into the past couple of versions of Android, but now the company is experimenting with other ideas. Today, the company has launched 5 new digital wellbeing experiments on Android and they’re all available as apps for you to try.
Pointed out by Android Police, these experimental apps all appeared in the “Experiments with Google” digital wellbeing collection this week. The five apps all have different use cases that help to cut down on your smartphone usage, be more aware of your usage, or limiting notifications.
Update 1/21: A few months after its first collection debuted, Google has released three more of these experimental apps with “Envelope,” “Screen Stopwatch,” and “Activity Bubbles.” All three have been added below and you can click here to skip straight to them.
The first of these apps is “Unlock Clock.” The app is used as a live wallpaper that displays the number of times you’ve unlocked your smartphone throughout the day. Once downloaded, it will appear as an option in your live wallpaper picker. “Unlock Clock” is available on the Play Store.
Unlock Clock helps you consider your tech use, by counting and displaying the number of times you unlock your phone in a day. Simply download the wallpaper and get started.
The second of Google’s new digital wellbeing apps for Android is “Post Box.” The idea behind this app is to limit how often notifications are thrown at you. Instead of delivering them all at once, Post Box gathers your notifications through the day and delivers them in an organized way up to 4 times each day. You can see the process in action in the video below and download Post Box from the Play Store.
Post Box helps you minimise distractions, by holding your notifications until a time that suits you. Simply choose how often you’d like your notifications to be delivered. When they arrive, they’ll be neatly organised for you to go through.
“We Flip” is designed to cut down on smartphone usage when you’re around a group of other people. The app takes every phone in the group and pairs them together. Everyone flips the switch to start a new “session.” The app then tracks who takes a peek at their phones and, when someone unlocks, the session ends and provides some stats. It seems like a clever way to keep the group accountable for their phones. We Flip is available on the Play Store.
We Flip enables you to switch off from technology as a group, to spend quality time together. Simply wait for everyone to join, then flip the switch together to begin your session. If someone in the group unlocks, the session will end and you’ll be able to see how you did.
Much like the classic game, Google’s “Desert Island” digital wellbeing app for Android is designed to find out what’s most important to you. The app takes over your smartphone and only includes shortcuts to the apps you need most such as the camera, a note-taking app, messages, and more. The apps listed are customizable by the user and then the app challenges users to stay like that for 24 hours. Desert Island is available on the Play Store.
Desert Island helps you find focus, by challenging you to go a day with only your essential apps. Simply pick the apps that are most important to you, then give it a go for 24 hours.
Google’s last new digital wellbeing app for Android is called “Morph.” The app is designed to adapt to whatever it is you’re doing at the time. It tries to deliver the right apps at the right time, such as displaying email, calendar, and document apps during work times. Morph is available on the Play Store.
Morph helps you stay focused, by adapting your phone to what you are doing. Simply think about how you divide your time and choose the apps that are most important to you in each mode. Based on time or place, your phone will automatically adapt – giving you just the right apps at just the right time.
Another experiment Google has published recently is called “Paper Phone” and it’s perhaps the strangest of the bunch. The app lets you create a foldable paper “phone” that includes some of the most important parts of your smartphone such as a task list, list of contacts, recipes, and more. You can even stick a credit card inside. It’s a very strange idea, but could be a good to way to “detox” for a day.
Paper Phone is available on the Play Store.
Envelope is yet another of Google’s new experimental Wellbeing apps and it’s fairly similar to the strange “Paper Phone” above. This time, you’ll print out a piece of paper and fold it in the shape of an envelope. After that, you’ll seal your Pixel 3a inside – the app is only available for Google’s mid-range smartphone – and only have access to the dialer and camera.
Many people feel that they spend too much time on their phones and struggle to find a balance with technology. We have designed a series of special paper envelopes which completely transform the functionality of your smartphone for the time it is sealed inside, allowing you to enjoy fewer distractions for a little while. One envelope turns your phone into a very basic device which can only make and receive calls, while the other turns your phone into a photo and video camera with no screen, helping you to focus on what’s in front of you. Printed buttons which subtly light up allow you to dial and take photographs, creating a calm but magical “Envelope User Interface”.
Perhaps my favorite of this entire set is Activity Bubbles. This app tracks how often you unlock your phone and how long you keep it unlocked and applies that to your wallpaper. For every unlock, a new bubble is formed and it grows the longer you use your phone. Over the course of the day, your wallpaper fills up with bubbles.
You can download Activity Bubbles from Google Play.
Activity Bubbles helps you discover what your phone usage looks like in a day. Each unlock creates a new bubble. The longer you stay on your phone the bigger the bubble grows.
Another wallpaper-based solution comes in the form of Screen Stopwatch. Like Unlock Clock listed above, this one tracks how long you actively use your device on a daily basis but, in this case, showing the total with hours, minutes, and seconds. If you really want to be aware of how much you use your phone, this is perhaps the most effective, probably stress-inducing way to keep track.
Screen Stopwatch is available on Google Play.
More on Digital Wellbeing:
- Google Calendar makes ‘Working Hours’ more prominent, enables by default
- How to use the new Digital Wellbeing features in Android 10, Focus Mode, and site timers
- Google now requires all Android devices to have a ‘digital wellbeing’ app
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