Digital well-being with these 5 Google apps for An ...

Digital well-being with these 5 Google apps for An …

October 25, 2019

Google announced experimental applications designed to advance digital well-being and thus promote responsible mobile phone use. The launch comes amid growing concerns about how addiction to smartphones and social media can contribute to depression and loneliness, especially in young people.

Digital well-beingDigital well-being with these 5 Google apps for Android Image by SFIO CRACHO via Shutterstock

Google is promoting its new Digital Wellbeing experiments as a platform. It’s less a way to tackle digital addiction directly and more a set of tools to encourage developers to incorporate digital wellness into their products, Google’s Emma Turpin wrote. In fact, Google has compiled a “pirate pack” PDF guide to get you started building digital wellness tools. Also an open source Digital Wellbeing Experiments Toolkit, which is available on GitHub. Google created five apps for Android in which it incorporates Digital Wellbeing. Here’s a quick look at what each one does.

mailbox

Post Box allows users to choose when notifications are sent to their phone. This is so that they are not constantly bombarded with alerts from Gmail, WhatsApp, and Facebook.

We turn around

We Flip is something of a “do not disturb” group app, so in social settings everyone who activates the app can effectively lock their phone. Anyone can unlock their device at any time, but doing so will end the session for everyone. It is designed to discourage users from looking at their phones while dining.

Deserted island

Desert Island challenges users to spend all day accessing only “essential” applications. The user chooses without which applications he really cannot do without, such as the camera, Uber and Spotify, and then tries to keep the ones of the day.

Morph

Morph promises to help users stay focused by allowing them to create different “modes,” keeping only the applications relevant to that mode active. For example, during “work” mode, a user may want to access only Slack, Gmail, and Dropbox. In “vacation” mode on weekends you may only want to interact with Spotify, Uber, and Google Maps. The modes can also be activated based on the user’s location.

Unlock watch

Unlock watch is a pretty simple app. It is basically a home screen wallpaper that counts and displays the number of times a user unlocks their phone in a day.

Digital detox

As one of the “big two” in the world of smartphone operating systems, Google has a huge influence on how digital services are delivered and presented on its platform. In response to growing concerns about the impact technology is having on people’s mental well-being, Google has recently rolled out a number of new features for Android, including app limit timers and a disconnect mode. It now also requires Android phone manufacturers to include digital wellness tools on their devices by default, which may involve simply using Google’s own services.

Elsewhere, Samsung, the biggest Android phone maker in terms of shipments, has already included mental wellness features for a while, including an integration with Calm’s mindfulness and meditation programs. And both Facebook and Instagram introduced trackers to help users limit their time on social media. Separately, Apple offers a bunch of tools to help its users manage their screen time on iPhones and iPads.

This is why Google is now looking to target the development community. These experimental apps may prove useful in their own right, but ultimately, Google wants to gain buy-in from the developer and designer community to ensure that more people tackle the overall problem.

Source: Google launches 5 experimental digital well-being apps for Android

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