New Google Apps Help Monitor and Reduce Screen Time

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. minimize / ˈmɪn əˌmaɪz / (v) – to decrease or reduce something

    The company minimized its production costs by looking for cheaper suppliers.

  2. divert / dɪˈvɜrt / (v) – to cause someone’s attention to focus on another thing

    I usually go to the park on the weekends to divert my attention from housework.

  3. be mindful of (something) / bi ˈmaɪnd fəl əv / (idiom) – to pay close attention to something

    Employees in the company are encouraged to be mindful of their deadlines to avoid delays.

  4. assemble / əˈsɛm bəl / (v) – to build something by combining its separate parts

    The boy assembled the parts of his toy robot.

  5. innovative / ˈɪn əˌveɪ tɪv / (adj) – describing something that introduces new ideas

    The tech company launched an app design contest to gather unique and innovative ideas.


Read the text below.

Google has launched three new apps to help people monitor and reduce their smartphone use.

This is part of Google’s Digital Wellbeing Experiments—an open platform for designers and developers to submit ideas that can help smartphone users minimize their screen time.

According to the company, technology has become so integrated into people’s lives that it sometimes diverts their attention from other important things. The company hopes the tools they develop will help people be mindful of their digital wellbeing.

The three new apps are Activity Bubbles, Screen Stopwatch, and Envelope.

Both Activity Bubbles and Screen Stopwatch let users track daily screen time. The former makes a bubble appear on the home screen background each time the phone is unlocked. The bubble grows larger the longer users spend time on their device. The latter, on the other hand, works like a stopwatch that counts hours, minutes, and seconds every time the phone is unlocked. It can be set as a wallpaper so users can see how much time they spend on their phone.

Envelope is an app that comes with printable cutouts. Users can assemble the cutouts into an envelope that they can seal their phone in. Once the phone is inside, some functions and features, like surfing the net, get blocked.

Google encourages people to submit their contributions to the Digital Wellbeing Experiments platform. The company welcomes projects that are unique, innovative, visually appealing, and open for collaboration. Submissions will be reviewed before they are featured on the site.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Would you recommend using the apps submitted through the Digital Wellbeing Experiments? Why or why not?
• Aside from the new apps mentioned in the article, how else can people be encouraged to lessen their screen time? Discuss.

Discussion B

• How does spending too much time on smartphones affect the wellbeing of users? Explain.
• Why do you think many people spend so much time on their smartphones? Explain.