Want to spend less time on your phone? Put it in an envelope, Google says

Google has come up with a sure fire way to help people use their smartphones less… place the thing in a paper envelope!

As part of its experimental wellbeing project, which is designed to help people find a better balance in their digital lives, Google has launched a number of new tools.

The most notable is a pair of paper envelopes that “temporarily transform your phone into a simpler, calmer device.” There are two specially designed envelopes; one while offers easy access to the phone app, and little else, and another which makes the camera accessible.

In a post on the Experiments with Google site, the company says the envelopes will “transform the functionality of your smartphone for the time it is sealed inside, allowing you to enjoy fewer distractions for a little while.”

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Google says the experiment was inspired by the recent trend of smartphone buyers purchasing a secondary device in order to get away from their phone. Google said it wanted to ensure anyone could enjoy those digital detox weekends, without splashing out on a new phone.

The PDF versions of the envelopes can be downloaded right now, but are only compatible with the Google Pixel 3a at present.

Beyond the envelopes, Google is also adding a screen stopwatch which gives users visual indication of how much time they spend on their phones each day, while an Activity Bubbles tool (below) also sits on the desktop.

The firm says: “Activity Bubbles helps you discover what your phone usage looks like in a day. Each unlock creates a new bubble. The longer you stay on your phone the bigger the bubble grows.”

The new Anchor extension for Google Chrome is designed to give users a visual indication of how ‘low’ users sink when they spend extended time scrolling on their devices.

You can learn about this and the other new digital wellbeing experiments on Google’s dedicated website.

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