Curb Your Smartphone Addiction With Google’s New Android Apps

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Android: Your Android comes with plenty of useful tools to keep your smartphone addiction in check. But settings like Google’s “Digital Wellbeing” feature are more functional than fun. They’ll encourage you to use your device less, but they lack a certain flair.

Google recently released three new apps that are all designed to help you reduce how much time you spend glued to your phone, and they make for lovely (if slightly annoying) reminders. That’s a good thing, though; we should all use our smartphones less than the 5+ hours most Americans spend staring at their devices each day.

Which app is the best, though? Well, that depends on how addicted you are.

A “regular texter” addiction: Activity Bubbles 

Screenshot: David Murphy

Google’s first app might have an odd name, but you’ll get why in a minute. Download it for your Android, and it’ll replace whatever wallpaper you’re currently using with a lovely black screen. This screen will start to fill with bubbles to indicate how much you’ve been using your device each day. New bubbles that appear represent the amount of time you spent on your phone during your last session.

There’s no punishment built into Activity Bubbles. Fill your screen as much as you want; that’s on you. The app is meant to help you better understand your habits, not break you of them.

A Netflix bingeing-like addiction: Screen Stopwatch

Screenshot: David Murphy

If you need a slightly more forceful reminder about how much time you spend on your phone, give Screen Stopwatch a shot. Install it, and your wallpaper will now become a stopwatch that counts how much time you’ve spent on your phone each day. If cutesy bubbles don’t do it for you, then this is a great way to curb your addiction via some good ol’ shaming.

You can’t put your smartphone down: Envelope

Google’s third and final app, Envelope, only works on the Pixel 3a—not even the Pixel 3a XL, just the Pixel 3a. I’m not exactly sure why Google needs to test this one on that device and that device only, but I suspect it’s because the app encourages you to print out an…envelope. Yes, you’ll need to print a physical piece of paper that you’ll then fold into a little container for your Pixel 3a. Once you seal your Pixel 3a inside the paper, you’ll only be “able” to use the smartphone’s camera and phone—that’s it.

Screenshot: David Murphy

Quirky? Absolutely. But it does pretty up your smartphone slightly, while dumbing it down considerably. I consider this one the extreme measure of the three apps Google recently launched. However, if this is what you need to chill out about your smartphone use, all it takes is a little bit of geeky origami to get there.

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