Google wants its users to find a better balance with technology

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 22, 2020
Google Android
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10

Do you find it difficult to keep your hands and eyes off of your electronic devices? Google launched a set of digital wellbeing experiments designed to assist Android users when it comes to their use of electronic devices.

The three new experiments, Screen Stopwatch, Activity Bubbles, and Envelope, help users better understand their phone usage, the time they spend on their phone, and help transform the phone into a simpler device that has limited uses.

The first two applications can be installed on Android devices. Screen Stopwatch is a basic counter that counts the seconds, minutes, and hours that the phone has been in use. To hammer the fact home, it displays the count directly on the device so that it cannot be missed.

Activity Bubbles follows a similar path but displays usage in a different way. Instead of displaying usage time, it displays bubbles. One bubble for every unlock to be precise. The active bubble gets bigger the longer the phone is used without it being locked.

via https://experiments.withgoogle.com/envelope

Envelope, finally, may sound like an early April 1st joke. The application, available only for Google Pixel 3a devices currently, provides print templates to create phone envelopes. The phone is placed inside and functionality is limited significantly because of that. Different envelopes are available, e.g. one for calling and checking the time, another for recording video or taking photos.

Nothing is preventing the owner of the device from opening the envelope and getting the phone out; a solution with a timed lock would probably better in this case but way more expensive.

Google has published a video that demonstrate the functionality.

The Digital Wellbeing Experiments website lists other experiments that Android users can subscribe to. There is Paper Phone, which creates a paper version of a phone to carry around, or Desert Island which limits use to a  certain number of essential applications.

Closing Words

The use of electronic devices is on the rise and it is clear that it impacts the quality of life for some. Whether these applications may be helpful remains to be seen as they require that users show initiative and install these applications on their devices to get started.

Now You: What is your take on Google's initiative?

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Google wants its users to find a better balance with technology
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Google wants its users to find a better balance with technology
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Do you find it difficult to keep your hands and eyes off of your electronic devices? Google launched a set of digital wellbeing experiments designed to assist Android users when it comes to their use of electronic devices.
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Comments

  1. Albert said on August 18, 2023 at 1:49 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for the tip Martin.

    It is for these kinds of posts that I follow GHacks.

    1. Mike Williams said on August 26, 2023 at 8:55 pm
      Reply

      What’s up with the generic comment, are you a bot?

  2. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:23 pm
    Reply

    2G?

    Where on the planet is that still in use? I was forced to give up using my RAZRV3 years ago because 2G was phased out by AT&T.

    1. arbuz said on August 20, 2023 at 5:02 pm
      Reply

      Everywhere 3G has been turned off and you don’t have LTE coverage, and believe me there are many developed countries where this is the case and if it weren’t for 2G you wouldn’t even be able to make a phone call.

    2. Doc Fuddled said on August 31, 2023 at 5:55 pm
      Reply

      Maybe I missed it, but I don’t believe tha term “2G” is in the article. Perhaps you are referring to “AGM G2”??

  3. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:27 pm
    Reply

    @Martin

    Your website has gone insane.

    When I the post button I then saw my comment posted on a different article page. When I opened this article again, it is here.

    1. Martin P. said on August 31, 2023 at 4:39 pm
      Reply

      @Tachy @Martin Brinkmann

      ” Your website has gone insane. ”

      Same here. Has happened several times.

      1. owl said on September 1, 2023 at 3:42 am
        Reply

        @Tachy,
        @Martin P.,

        For over two weeks now,
        I’ve been seeing “Comments” posted by subscribers appearing in different, unrelated articles.
        https://www.ghacks.net/windows-11-update-stuck-fixed-for-good/#comment-4572991
        https://www.ghacks.net/windows-11-update-stuck-fixed-for-good/#comment-4572951
        For the time being,
        it would be better to specify the “article name and URL” at the beginning of the post.

  4. Anonymous said on August 18, 2023 at 11:17 pm
    Reply

    @tachy a lot of non-phone devices with a sim in them rely on 2G, at least here in europe.
    Usually things reporting usage or errors/alarms on something remote that does not get day to day inspection in person. They are out there in vast numbers doing important work. Reliable, good range. The low datarate is no problem at all in those cases.
    3G is gone or on its last legs everywhere, but this stuff still has too much use to cancel.

    Anyhow, interesting that they would put that in. I can see the point if you suspect a hostile 2G environment (amateur eavesdroppers with laptop, ranging up to professional grade MITM fake towers while “strangely” not getting the stronger crypto voip 4G because it is being jammed, and back down to something as old ‘stingray’ devices fallen into the wrong hands).

    But does this also mean that they have handled and rolled out a fix for that nasty 4G ‘pwn by broadcast’ problem you reported earlier this year? I had 4G disabled due to that, on the off chance that some of the local criminals would buy some cheap chinese gear, download a working exploit and probe every phone in range all over town in the hope of getting into phones of the police.

  5. Andy Prough said on August 19, 2023 at 3:04 am
    Reply

    >”While most may never be attacked in stingrays, it is still recommended to disable 2G cellular connections, especially since it does not have any downsides.”

    The downside would be losing connectivity. I spend a lot of time way out in the countryside where there’s often no service or almost none. My network allows 2G, and I need it sometimes. I have an option on the phone to disable 2G, I may do that when I’m in the city and I have good 5G connectivity, but not out in the country.

    I would imagine that the stingray exploits, like most of the bad things in this world, are probably things you will run into in the crowded big cities.

  6. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 3:40 am
    Reply

    I stopped using it in a mobile (Wi-Fi line) environment, so I’m almost ignorant of the actual situation,
    But the recent reality in Japan makes me realize that “the infrastructure of the web is nothing more than a papier-mâché fiction”.
    https://www.ghacks.net/2023/08/17/google-chrome-to-enable-https-first-by-default-for-all-users/#comment-4572402

    It is already beyond the scope of what an individual can do.
    What we should be aware of is the reality that “governments and those in power want to control the world through the Web”, and efforts to counter (resist and prevent) such ambitions are necessary.

  7. Anonymous said on August 26, 2023 at 9:27 pm
    Reply

    Why do you want people to disable the privacy features? Hmmmmm?

  8. Anonymous said on August 27, 2023 at 2:30 am
    Reply

    Now You: do you plan to keep the Ads privacy features enabled?

    I’d like to tell you, but apparently if you make a post critical of Google, you get censored. * [Editor: removed, just try to bring your opinion across without attacking anyone]

  9. Tachy said on August 27, 2023 at 5:15 am
    Reply

    @Martin

    You website is still psychotic. Comments attach to random stories.

  10. John G. said on August 28, 2023 at 2:46 pm
    Reply

    @Martin please do fix the comments, it’s completely insane commenting here! :[

  11. ECJ said on August 28, 2023 at 5:37 pm
    Reply

    @Martin

    The comments are seriously messed up on gHacks now. These comments are mixed with the article at the below URL.

    https://www.ghacks.net/2023/08/18/android-how-to-disable-2g-cellular-connections-to-improve-security/

    And comments on other articles are from as far back as 2010.

  12. Naimless said on August 29, 2023 at 12:57 am
    Reply

    What does this article has anything to do with all the comments on this article? LOL I think this Websuite is ran by ChatGPT. every article is messed up. Some older comments from 2015 shown up in recant articles, LOL

  13. Paul Knight said on August 31, 2023 at 3:35 am
    Reply

    The picture captioned “Clearing the Android Auto’s cache might resolve the issue” is from Apple Carplay ;)

  14. Anonymous said on August 31, 2023 at 9:57 pm
    Reply

    How about other things that matter:
    Drop survival?
    Screen toughness?
    Degree of water and dust protection?

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