Google has released a bunch of new tools to help people “find a better balance with technology” as part of its Digital Wellbeing initiative. One of them, Envelope by Special Projects involves putting your phone inside a paper envelope to minimize distractions. It is similar to the pouches some artists require fans to put their phones into at concerts, except you can make a phone call if you want to with Google’s envelope.
There are two types of envelope–one for call and one for the camera only which will “temporarily transform your phone into a simpler, calmer device,” according to Special Projects. “Many people feel that they spend too much time on their phones and struggle to find a balance with technology. Printed buttons with subtly light up allow you to dial and take photographs.”
The calls-only envelope allows you to make or receive calls and check the time whole the camera envelope allows you to take photos and videos but the problem is you can’t look at any of the files until you take it out of the envelope. After you take your phone out of the envelope at the end of the day, it will inform how long you’ve been using it for. “The idea is to try and last as long as possible before opening the envelope,” the company said.
Currently, the Google envelope technique only works with Pixel 3A right now. If you own a Pixel 3A, you can download the required Playstore app for the envelope, called Envelope and then print out the PDF for the envelope, cut out the template and follow the rest of the instructions to construct it. And when you are ready to test your patience, open the Envelope app, slide your device into the envelope and seal the envelope shut, Google recommends using glue.
Google has open-sourced the Envelope app on GitHub, so that developers can tinker it to do more. Another app called Activity Bubbles puts a bubble on your wallpaper each time you unlock your phone and increases the size of the bubble the longer you’re on the phone. Your home screen covered in bubbles might be a sign that you’ve been on your phone for too long. A third app, called Screen Stopwatch is a live wallpaper that constantly counts up whenever you have your phone unlocked.
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