Google releases ‘Envelope’ to curb your smartphone addiction

Do you know how often you use your smartphone? If you’re like 9 out of 10 adults in America, you probably own a cell phone. When they first came out, they were just communication tools. Now, they’re cameras, GPS, gaming consoles, health trackers, etc. In fact, we turn to our devices for everything from reading the news to checking out emails, filing our taxes, even controlling the thermostat. And while this may not be a problem for many people, some individuals rely so deeply on their mobile devices that they develop an addiction called nomophobia.

If you feel that you’re someone who comes to rely on their devices too much, Google has a solution to curb technological distractions in our daily lives. The company has released a new app called Envelope, which comes with a phone-sized paper cutout. Designed in partnership with design and invention consultancy Special Projects, the app and cutout force people to part with their phones.

Download and print a paper envelope

“Many people feel that they spend too much time on their phones and struggle to find a balance with technology,” Google wrote in a blog post.

How Envelope curbs your addictions

When the app is activated on your phone, it turns the display into a simple call screen with numbers that can only be used to call another phone or activate speed dial. Users are then encouraged to place their phones inside the phone-sized paper cutout that has numbers printed on the outside. This phone envelope can be downloaded, printed and assembled at home. Google then encourages users to seal their phones in the envelope and shut it with glue. Thus, users would have to rip their phones out of the envelope if they wished to use them again.

In conjunction with an app, place your phone in the envelope

If this downgrade is too much for you, an alternative version allows the user to take photos and videos when the Envelope is activated. This version has cutouts in the back that are designed for rear-facing sensors and two buttons on the front-facing screen.

According to Google, the idea of this tool is to provide an affordable and simple way of coping with the constant distraction a smartphone can bring to an individual’s life. The Envelope is currently available for the Pixel 3a and can be downloaded in the Google Play store. However, if you feel that you’d still be tempted to tear open your phone, this dummy device might be more what you’re looking for.