Over the past year or so, Apple and Google have started adding features to their smartphone operating systems to… encourage you to use your phone less.
It’s kind of weird that we’ve reached a point where smartphone addiction is a widespread enough concern that companies are trying to find ways to help you put your phone down. But tools that help you track and limit your screen time and/or just make all the color ooze out of your phone’s display are now baked into the latest versions of Android and iOS.
This week Google announced its exploring other ways to help you take a break from your phone, by rolling out a series of “Digital Welbeing Experiments.” One of the strangest… and somehow most intriguing, is basically an app that lets you print everything you need for the day on a piece of paper and leave your phone behind…. or in your pocket.
It’s called Paper Phone, and it’s a free app that you can install on any phone running Android 6.0 or later. Run it, send the print job to you printer, and you’ll get a print-out that you can fold up and carry around with some or all of the following items:
- A map with directions from one location to another
- Details for up to 7 contacts
- Calendar appointments
- Today’s weather forecast
- A task list
- An empty space for writing notes
- A screenshot or picture
You can also choose a “Contactless” option that will add cut marks that you can use to add a card-holder to your folded up paper phone.
Of course, if you actually need to make a call or send a text message, a Paper Phone is going to be useless. So you might want to keep an actual phone handy for emergencies, even if you have a printout designed to help you look at it less.
Oh, and if you’re worried that the Paper Phone is too boring, it supports apps and games — you can choose from the following options before sending your “phone” to the printer:
- Conversion Charts
- Italian Phrasebook
- Multiplication Table
- Origami Pigeon
- Sign Language
- Word of the Day
Google’s other Digital Wellbeing experiments include the Unlock Clock, which sets a counter as your wallpaper, showing how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, Post Box, which lets your phone hold all notifications and only deliver them at certain times, We Flip, a group app that lets a bunch of people turn off their phones at once… and see how long you can go before someone unlocks their device, Desert Island, which lets you choose the most important apps and try using only those apps, and Morph, which lets you set a group of apps you use at different times of day and have your phone adapt to show those apps when you’re most likely to need them.