How much do you love your smartphone? Chances are, the answer is too much, right? We all want to spend less time looking at screens, and more time having real-life experiences. The data is pretty clear: we are all way too obsessed with our phones. One in three people around the world has trouble unplugging, even when they’re aware that it’s way healthier to put down their phone.
Why are smartphones so compelling? They’re designed specifically to be that way, with bright lights, high-definition colors, and unending pop-up notifications and prompts aimed at capturing your attention. But fortunately for us, there are a lot of things we can do to change how our phones look and perform. In fact, if you want to make your smartphone look just dull, boring, or straight-up ugly, you can do that.
Let’s start with the tools that are already on your phone. Apple’s iOS 12 update included a new feature called Screen Time, which gives you a wealth of data about your iPhone and iPad usage, breaking down the amount of time you spent in each individual app on your device. There’s also App Limits, which let you set a daily allotment of time for a particular app or for an entire category of apps, like social media, productivity, or entertainment. Once it runs out, iOS will gray out the icon and display a full-screen banner telling you you’ve reached your time limit.
Android phone users have a setting called Digital Wellbeing, which is pretty similar to Screen Time. The main difference between the two features is that you can basically press a button to ignore it on iOS, but on Android, you have to manually remove the limit, which is way more annoying.
There are also third-party apps that can make your phone way less appealing. An Android app called Siempo gives you a white background with bland-looking icons. It also lets you delay and cluster notifications. And there’s a twist: Siempo constantly rearranges your icons so you can’t form the muscle memory habit of reflexively launching the apps