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Addicted to your phone? Try one of Google’s clever new ‘experiments’

You know you need to spend less time on your phone, and Google agrees. To that end, the company announced a set of new apps and tools to help you spend a little less time on your device — and more time being a little more productive. The new apps are part of a set of new Digital Wellbeing “experiments,” which are now available in the Google Play Store.

Digital Wellbeing, in general, was originally launched as a way for users to track how much they use their phone and the apps on their phone, and as a way to limit that usage. The five new apps are part of that initiative, however, they don’t seem to require Digital Wellbeing to actually be on your phone — so you can still take advantage of them if you don’t have a recent version of Android with Digital Wellbeing.

So what exactly are these new Digital Wellbeing experiments? Here’s a quick rundown.

Desert Island

Desert Island - A Digital Wellbeing Experiment

Desert Island basically forces you to pick a few apps that you especially need to use — while the rest are totally hidden. Basically, you’ll choose only seven apps to show, while the rest are hidden from view — though you can still use them if you need to. After 24 hours, you’ll get a summary to tell you how you did only using the specific apps, and how often you stuck to using the chosen ones.

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Morph - A Digital Wellbeing Experiment

Morph is aimed at completely changing the look of your phone depending on when you’re using it. The idea is that using a single launcher can make opening your device a little distracting — so instead, Morph changes the launcher when and where you need to. You can create as many modes as you want, assign apps to be available in those modes, and have modes automatically activate based on the time or your location. Morph even limits notifications depending on the mode.

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Paper Phone

Paper phone - A printable Paper Phone which helps you take a break away from your digital world

Paper Phone is pretty different from the other apps — in that the goal of it is to do away with using your phone altogether. At the start of the day, you’ll use the app to print important information that you might need during the day, like contacts, tasks, weather information, and so on. The idea is that you’ll refer to that paper copy instead of your phone.

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Post Box

Post Box - A Digital Wellbeing Experiment

Post Box is aimed at helping you manage your notifications. The app essentially blocks notifications from appearing during the day, then letting them through in a bundle at a specific time, or up to four times, during the day.

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Unlock Clock

Unlock Clock is basically a wallpaper that shows a count of the number of times you’ve unlocked your phone throughout the day. You can access the wallpaper in the Google Wallpapers app, and it’ll show a large number on the screen for every device unlock — helping show you exactly how many times during the day you pick up your phone.

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We Flip

We Flip - A Digital Wellbeing Experiment

We Flip is aimed at helping users in groups keep their phones in their pockets. To properly use the app, everyone needs to have it installed on their device. When the phones are all linked, you’ll flip your phone upside down on a table or other surface to start a session. When a person flips their device to look at the screen, the session ends — and they lose.

We Flip

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Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
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