It’s no secret we spend a ton of time on our smartphones — perhaps too much time. That’s why Google has been creating several experimental apps to help us develop healthier habits. First, it developed Digital Wellbeing, and since then, Google has released six other experimental apps that aim to encourage healthy phone usage. Now, Google has released three more experimental apps, but you probably won’t be able to use all of them just yet (h/t: Android Police).
The first new Google experimental app is called Envelope. Envelope disables nearly all of your device functions apart from the ability to make and take phone calls.
The app achieves this not only with some software trickery, but it requires the user to literally print out a special envelope and seal their phone inside. Once inside the enveloper, the app will allow the user to use the dialer through the paper, and it leaves room for the fingerprint reader around back.
This is a really interesting idea, but it feels like a cumbersome way to achieve simplicity. On the other hand, that might be exactly what someone needs to help break their phone addiction. At least once you print off the envelop the first time, you’ll never have to do it again unless you ruin the first one.
Unfortunately, the app is only available on the Google Pixel 3a right now, but the app is open source, so that could change at any time.
The second app is Screen Stopwatch. This Google experimental app puts your on-screen time front and center, encouraging you to use your device as little as possible.
The app itself is essentially a live wallpaper with a slowly increasing timer. This timer corresponds with how much time you spend on your device, and it pauses every time you lock your smartphone. You’ll also hear a constant, subtle ticking sound when you are on your device to remind you to minimize usage. At the end of the day, you’ll know exactly how much time you spent using your phone.
The app is available on all devices running Android versions 8 and newer.
Activity Bubbles is another live wallpaper app like Screen Stopwatch. But instead of showing you how much time you spend on your device, this Google experimental app visualizes phone usage a little more creatively.
Each time you unlock your device, Activity Bubbles will drop a new bubble on your wallpaper. The longer you spend on your device, the bigger the bubble grows.
At the end of the day, you can see how many times you unlocked your phone, and you have a general idea of how long you spent each time. The app doesn’t necessarily provide any useful metrics, but it offers an easy way to understand the frequency of your phone usage.
Just like Screen Stop Watch, Activity Bubbles is available on devices running Android 8 and up.