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Google releases 3 more Android apps to help you spend less time on your phone

Have you considered throwing your phone in an envelope to cut down on screen time?

At least that’s what Google wants you to do with Envelope, one of the three experimental apps the company is releasing today. The new apps have emerged from the search engine giant’s Experiments With Google division and offer unorthodox solutions to help you spend less time staring at your phone.

Google bills Envelope — which is currently exclusive to Google’s Pixel 3a phones — as “an experimental app which temporarily transforms your phone into a simpler, calmer device.”

It does that by producing a range of personalized envelope designs based on the phone’s dimensions and asks you to print it out.

You have to then place your phone inside and operate it through the folded paper. One of the designs, for instance, features a dialer’s outline essentially restricting you to the phone’s call function. You can press the buttons to call someone or even view the time. There’s only a single cutout for the fingerprint sensor. Another template limits you to the camera app and has two buttons drawn out for taking a photo or video.

The second app is called Screen Stopwatch and it offers exactly what its name suggests. Screen Stopwatch is a live wallpaper app that actively displays your screen time in huge, bold letters on your phone’s home page. The counter begins ticking immediately when you unlock your phone and serves as a constant reminder of how much time you’ve lost staring at your phone.

The last app is also a live wallpaper titled Activity Bubbles and out of the three, this one will likely draw the most attention.

Activity Bubbles adds a bubble to a pile every time you unlock your phone. The longer you browse your phone in that particular session, the bigger that bubble will be. Once you lock, the bubble stops growing and the next time you hit unlock, Activity Bubbles creates a new one. By the end of the day, the larger your pile, the more you need to take advantage of your phone’s bundled digital wellbeing features.

Over the past year, Google has been proactively promoting digital health with a bevy of initiatives and mobile apps. Two months ago, the company launched a similar group of experimental apps, one of which simply suggests doing away with your phone altogether and relying on a printout of your most vital information such as tasks and contacts instead.

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Shubham Agarwal
Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. His work has previously appeared in Firstpost…
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