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Google has released six free apps to break your shameful phone addiction

Couple addicted to phones
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google has built a set of experimental apps for you to download, which will reveal just how much time you spend glued to your phone and maybe even encourage you to put it down for five minutes.

A few weeks ago, Google decreed that all new Android phones must come with a 'digital wellbeing' app installed to show how long you've been using particular apps, how many notifications your apps have generated, and how many times they've been launched. The figures might be alarming, and could shock you into cutting back.

Phone manufacturers are free to develop their own apps to serve this purpose, but Google has forged ahead and released a suite of experimental tools to demonstrate how it might be done.

As Android Police reports, the apps are available for all Android devices, though most require you to be running at least Android 8.0 Oreo.

Try them out

The first app, Unlock Clock, is a wallpaper that displays a large counter on your phone's home screen that ticks up each time you unlock your phone. Simple, but potentially shame-inducing.

One way of stopping people checking their phones at dinner is to make the first person to take a peek at their notifications pick up the bill. Experimental app We Flip uses a similar premise; you and your friends or colleagues all install the app on your phones, which detect one another using Bluetooth. The first person to cave in to temptation and turn their phone over 'loses'.

Post Box collects all your notifications and only reveals them at a scheduled time, so you aren't tempted by the lure of WhatsApp during the day.

Morph allows you to create 'modes' for your phone (such as 'work', 'evening' and 'weekend') with different apps available, and switch between them automatically at different times of day, or when you're in a particular place.

Desert Island lets you pick the five apps that are most important to you, and hides the rest, forcing you to prioritize the tools you actually need.

Finally, Paper Phone enables you to print a paper copy of all the important information you'll need throughout your day (such as your calendar events and tasks), and turn them into a little booklet that you can refer to instead of your phone, with its various time-sapping temptations.

It'll be interesting to see whether Google chooses to install any of these by default on future handsets, or perhaps even combines them into a digital wellbeing suite. In the meantime, if you know in your heart of hearts that you tend to spend a little more time on your phone than is healthy, it's worth trying them out to see if they can help you break a few bad habits.