Stay calm and don’t use your phone

Mala Bhargava | Updated on November 28, 2019 Published on November 28, 2019

Google is trying to boost digital well-being with a set of experimental apps

Google has come up with a set of light apps to give a boost to ‘Digital Well Being’ for users. Balancing the use of phones and tablets etc with some essential off-time is something the tech giant has been focusing on in the recent past, building some relevant tools into Android. Now there’s a set of special apps which Google thinks may help people. These are strictly experimental. You can get them on the Play Store.

Unlock Clock is a mini app you can install on your phone. Once done, you need to go to wherever Wallpapers are located on your device and choose the Unlock Clock wallpaper — because that’s what it is, a live wallpaper of sorts. Now, each time you unlock your device, the clock moves forward by one number. It’s rather fun to see just how many times you open up that phone, though you may eventually get impatient with the info. The one problem is that it will replace your favourite wallpaper which you may miss seeing through the day.

We Flip is ideal for family meal time. Everyone gets the app on their phones and from then on it’s like an amusing game. A graphic shows each member in the family as having ‘flipped the switch’ or not. When everyone does, all the phones go into Do Not Disturb mode. If one person unlocks, all phones exit Do Not Disturb and the session ends. The app can be a nice way for a group to switch off from technology and spend quality time together.

Desert Island is an app that lets you maroon yourself without too much tech bothering you. For a 24-hour period you choose the apps you consider most essential to you and put the rest of them to sleep. This way you can focus on something you need to get done — including relaxing — and yet not miss out on some selected important things which would happen were you to have to switch off altogether.

Post Box will be an absolute godsend to many users who are harangued by notifications all day. One fears missing something that needs attention so turning notifications off altogether is not the right solution. Google’s app Post Box keeps the notifications and delivers them in one bunch at a specific time of your choosing. You can also choose how frequently you want your ‘post’ delivered. You will need to enable access to it from the Settings.

Paper Phone is meant for users who want to totally disconnect for a while and go without their devices, not even having to boot up to check some critical piece of information. You need a printer for this one. The app lets you print a little paper phone with the most important information you need for the day. You choose the bits of information you think you will need and collect it up in the Paper Phone app. Print — and turn off the real phone. The information will have to be from a selection of apps including Maps, Contacts, Calendar. Essentially from a handful of other Google apps.

Morph needs a little more thinking from the user. To begin with, consider how you spend your time and what apps you tend to use in different moments or ‘modes’. Work, Holiday, Home etc. Then you choose the apps relevant to each moment. Assign each moment a time and place. Then begin the ‘experiment’ in which the phone will see where you are and bring up the apps you want.

Try these out and see if they work for your lifestyle.

Published on November 28, 2019
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