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Spend too much time on your phone? Google has new apps to fix that

Google's new Activity Bubbles tool. (Source: Google)
Google's new Activity Bubbles tool. (Source: Google)
Phone addiction or dependency is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem in the developed world. Google has set up its Creative Lab for users who want to address this. Its latest experiments consist of 3 apps which may act as digital detox aids, while helping users visualize their screen-on time.

Google has noticed that some users seem to have trouble putting their phones down and enjoying other aspects of life these days. To this end, it has set its Creative Lab and Special Projects divisions to the development of new and innovative ways to promote and provide digital-detox techniques. They have released 3 fresh examples of them, all of which are new and engaging ways of reducing or managing screen-time.

The Envelope requires that the user prints out a "special PDF" included with this download. When folded according to its instructions, it becomes an eponymous item of packaging into which a phone can be sealed.

The device in question obviously can't be used as normal; however, the rest of this "experiment's" software causes its screen to light up in specific zones that match the simple, keypad-like interface on the front of its new paper case. The idea is that the user restricts themselves to very basic phone functions while their device is encased in the Envelope.

There is also a version of the PDF that allows basic camera functions (i.e. snapping pictures or starting and stopping a recording), although the user doesn't see the results until they open the package. The app can also tell how long the user holds out until they do so via the phone's sensors. However, this fun way of boosting screen-off time appears to be only compatible wiith the Pixel 3a at present.

Activity Bubbles is a Creative Lab initiative that requires no analog materials this time. It is a kind of wallpaper that generates bubbles to represent screen-on time. These graphics fill the display over time, and grow or shrink in proportion to each phone-use session.

Screen Stopwatch, on the other hand, has a similar mechanism, but is a simple numerical counter. Either may help the user assess how much of the day they spend on their phone, which may help motivate them to cut down on this activity if they wish. All 3 of these are available as apps on the Play Store from now.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 01 > Spend too much time on your phone? Google has new apps to fix that
Deirdre O Donnell, 2020-01-21 (Update: 2020-01-21)