If you want to curb your smartphone usage, Google has released six free Android apps designed just for that. They are rather clever, playing on different principles to make you less dependent and anxious about your digital life — in other words, to help you actually live.
Google and Apple have been focusing on digital wellbeing, adding screen time statistics and limits so you can set some boundaries for yourself and — if you have them — your kids. But Google believes this isn’t good enough and it is taking the next step with these six smart pieces of software.
We Flip is pretty neat if you're constantly trying to get your kids or spouse to put their phone down at dinner time or if your friends spend more time staring at their screens than you when you're out. It works on the same principle of the game that makes the first person to pick their phone at the dinner table to pay the tab for everyone sitting down. Everyone at the table needs to install the app, all the phones connect through Bluetooth and the moment someone falls for the temptation of looking into his or her phone, everyone will automatically know.
This works on the principle of just shaming yourself. The Unlock Clock is a live wallpaper that updates itself with the number of times you have unlocked the phone through the day. Every time you pick up your phone to check something up, boom, it goes up. It will surprise you how many times you do this through the day. A more useful thing, however, would be to actually display the time you have spent in the phone.
Post Box is more aggressive than the self-shaming Unlock Clock reminder. Instead of being a passive reminder, you can use this app to collect all your notifications in one place, silencing your phone until a specific time of your choosing. When that time comes, Post Box will present you the notifications arranged in a neat way so can go through them quickly.
Here's another rather useful app that will make your phone look different according to profiles you set. It’s very simple: you set up different modes (work, personal, play, etc.) and choose which apps are needed for each. Then you set a time or a place for each of these modes to activate. For example, when you get to your office, your phone will “morph” into work mode, hiding all the apps except the ones needed in that environment.
If someone has ever asked you which movie, book or album would you take to a desert island, you already can imagine how Desert Island works. This app allows you to select the apps you truly find essential to go through the day and hides the rest for 24 hours. It’s one step removed from quitting your phone cold turkey style.
Which brings us to Paper Phone, which actually gets rid of your phone altogether. It works by allowing you to choose your favorite contacts, maps, meetings, and whatever other info you need to go through the next day, organizing it in a small booklet that you can actually print and put in your pocket. The idea is that you leave the phone at home and go 100% analog so you are more focused.