Author Topic: Make your cell phone BORING!  (Read 2523 times)

Syonyk

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Make your cell phone BORING!
« on: January 14, 2018, 01:50:57 PM »
This is a project I've been working on for a while now, and thought I'd share progress and a gauntlet.  I've been working to make my cell phone as boring as possible while still keeping useful functionality.

What this means, practically, is that I require the following while I'm out and about:
- Google Hangouts.  My wife & I use this extensively to communicate.
- Maps (sometimes).  I'm getting better at planning routes by hand, though.
- Phone/SMS.  Rarely, this gets used.  More often, I'm calling ahead somewhere to see if they have what I need.
- DJI Go 4.  This loads local map tiles over cell data, and I'm operating my drone commercially every now and then.
- Browser, for looking stuff up if I'm shopping (mostly, to see if I can find it radically cheaper elsewhere).
- Occasionally, remote monitoring of my power system and remote control of machines in my office.  My office is off grid solar, and I'll opportunistically use some power out there, but if I get a cloudy afternoon, I need to shut that down remotely.

Otherwise, pretty much everything else (email, most web, various messengers, etc) can be done at home, either on wireless, or (ideally) on a laptop, because it's a lot faster.

What I've done so far:
- Uninstalled all games and distracting apps.  This is an iterative process.  If you're out, bored, and pull your phone out to fiddle with an app, that's a good one to delete.  I've removed a bunch, including AdSense and Analytics, because it doesn't matter how many pennies my blog made today when I'm waiting in line at the store.
- Uninstalled the various Social Medias.  Facebook is really bad about pestering you with notifications.  Remove it.  Access it through the web browser if you must.
- Removed the ability of most remaining apps to notify me of things.  This includes email.  I simply don't care that I got another piece of spam.  I don't need the dopamine hit from that either.
- Logged myself out of websites in the browser.  No, I don't need to check Reddit on the go.

Then, I set about mucking about in settings to remove even more temptations on the go.
- Turn off cell data for most apps that you don't need cell data on.  Email, some of the browsers, various messenger apps that aren't critical to mobile operations.
- Make very good use of the "do not disturb" modes, though I need to fine tune this.  It tends to swallow Hangouts messages that I should pay attention to (usually things like, "Hey, while you're out, can you pick this up?").

Finally, I've been experimenting with a particularly interesting option lately: Greyscale phones!  If you go into the accessibility/color settings, you can configure a phone to only display greyscale.  It's... really interesting, actually.  You still get just about all the functionality (Google Maps traffic isn't readable, but I don't live somewhere that matters), and it's super boring to look at.  I currently have this tied to the accessibility shortcut of triple tapping home, so I can toggle it if needed.  But, wow.  Huge difference.

And I've started charging my phone in the other room.  I started this a month or so ago, and it's been very nice.  Zero temptation to just check my phone at 3AM.

So... join me!  Make your phone boring.  Free up your time!  And get epic battery life in the process (actually, half of this started because my battery is totally shot and I haven't gotten around to replacing it yet).

facepalm

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2018, 03:27:37 PM »
I have been thinking about doing this . . . I spend waay to much time on the phone. In addition, I have noticed that my concentration leves are down; it takes me forever to read a book now.

I have uninstalled all social media and financial sites. The only thing I use consistently is Mail, Carb Tracker, and fitness apps. I'll keep those for now. I also do text and make calls.

Next step will be to get back on google Fi and ditch the iPhone. Next is the Mac (I have a work laptop that I can use). I need out of Apple's ecosystem.

Syonyk

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2018, 04:41:49 PM »
In addition, I have noticed that my concentration leves are down; it takes me forever to read a book now.

That's certainly one benefit of practicing concentration and focus.  You get it back.  It's not an inherent ability, it's a skill.

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I have uninstalled all social media and financial sites. The only thing I use consistently is Mail, Carb Tracker, and fitness apps. I'll keep those for now. I also do text and make calls.

Email can be just as bad a dopaine hit as social media if you get a lot of it...  Do you really need it on your phone?  Would your time be well spent unsubscribing from the stuff you glance at and don't actually read?

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2018, 09:13:45 PM »
In addition, I have noticed that my concentration leves are down; it takes me forever to read a book now.

That's certainly one benefit of practicing concentration and focus.  You get it back.  It's not an inherent ability, it's a skill.

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I have uninstalled all social media and financial sites. The only thing I use consistently is Mail, Carb Tracker, and fitness apps. I'll keep those for now. I also do text and make calls.

Email can be just as bad a dopaine hit as social media if you get a lot of it...  Do you really need it on your phone?  Would your time be well spent unsubscribing from the stuff you glance at and don't actually read?
My concentration levels are so low that I can't even spell "levels" correctly!

I actually don't spend much time on e-mail. I use the e-mail app for work in order to be apprised of any disasters in progress or unattainable goals my boss might set for me at the spur of the moment. sometimes I have to dash off a quick note to a client and for that the phone is great. Otherwise, it gets answered at work, when I am working. Ads I just delete. Most lists I have unsubscribed.

I just ordered Google Fi service (again), so I'll be saving a few bucks a month, and I have a boring android phone on the way.  I'll still do the fitness apps since I am trying to drop a few.

Syonyk

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2018, 06:41:51 PM »
I actually think Android is a bit more prone to badgering the user, since apps can do a lot more with notifications and such.

In any case, the reactions from showing pretty hard-core tech "all the Apple things" types your phone in greyscale are hysterically funny.

Then... set it up for them and see if they use it. :)  It's really jarring just how brightly colored a phone is once you get used to greyscale.

facepalm

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2018, 09:28:14 PM »
I actually prefer Android notifications as they are much more granular. And many of the apps I use on Android are not whiz bang purty like they are on Apple.

I’ll have to play around with greyscale settings.

asosharp

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2018, 04:40:11 AM »
I use Android and it's actually quite easy to disable notifications even from whatsapp. If people want to tell me something that's important, they can call me.

Other than that, I try to only have things that I deem as necessary. I know this is very anti-MMM but I speculated in crypto and I found that I used to check the crypto exchange app quite frequently. For some reason it's very addictive. So I uninstalled it. I also uninstalled all the finance apps like Simply Wall Street, Yahoo Finance, and so on. I now check my phone way less!

cl_noll

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2018, 08:40:05 AM »
Good idea. I did this a for while and had since reverted. I couldn't find an option for making my phone gray scale, but I did turn on the red greed colorblind scheme and replace my background with a monotone one. Definitely a less appealing scheme! 

I have almost all notifications turned off other than voicemail and missed calls. Just like the good old days.

I also recommend not letting your browser save your facebook login, so you actually have to enter your password each time before logging in. Usually that's enough to make me stop and ask myself why I'm checking it. And then not proceed.

Rosy

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2018, 11:13:20 AM »
Boring, eh?:) That's easy if you are a baby boomer and don't know your way around some of the apps anyway.

I have a 4yr old LG Flex that I use to
 read books with a library app - love that
 monitor my e-mail - love that
 had facebook messenger - drove me insane - good riddance, I never want FB on my phone again - so invasive.
 chrome browser and google maps - yes, please - isn't technology wonderful:)?
 calculator app and payoff calculator app - use both all the time - so handy
 flashlight app - handy for night time security and visibility

Robinhood

For trips:
Airline Info app for my flight
Currency Exchange - I like the currency plus, because it is easier to use than XE
Uber
Need to find a good translation app for my next trip...

I experiment with apps until I find one I like and actually use and delete the ones that didn't work for me. Tried a few grocery shopping and news and finance apps - time suckers.

Maybe it is the generation gap, but I don't feel compelled to check my phone frequently, it is simply a tool that I use when it is convenient and/or necessary. I still prefer a phone call over texting, but I'm more or less forced to text with the younger crowd because that is how everyone communicates:).
I do shop and bank with my phone on occasion, but I am always a bit uneasy about how secure this really is.

I do wonder if I could watch Netflix on it (if I had it) and I have no idea what Google hangouts is - maybe you can explain?, although apparently, I have it on my phone. I'd like to try Google FI and I'm wondering whether I could use that while I am in Europe later this year?

Syonyk - just reading your challenge made me wonder if it is perhaps a mixture of feeling compelled and tethered to your phone ( I wouldn't dream of checking my phone after 10pm:) and selecting apps that are useful and improve your life, instead of time suckers.
Maybe it is simply a case of knowing all the cool stuff one can do that is tempting to you...


 

Syonyk

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2018, 12:20:16 PM »
I know this is very anti-MMM but I speculated in crypto and I found that I used to check the crypto exchange app quite frequently. For some reason it's very addictive.

MMM is very anti-crypto, but it's certainly been useful for a lot of people...

Crypto prices certainly trigger all those human dopamine hit points - it's constantly changing, and (on the short term) suitably random.

I do wonder if I could watch Netflix on it (if I had it) and I have no idea what Google hangouts is - maybe you can explain?, although apparently, I have it on my phone. I'd like to try Google FI and I'm wondering whether I could use that while I am in Europe later this year?

Hangouts is just a messaging app - the evolution of Google Talk, or... something like that.  My wife & I use it to communicate instead of text messages because I'm logged into Hangouts on most of my computers as well, so if my phone is in the house, she can ping me in my office.  It's just a more broadly useful form of texting.  I talk to a few other people with it as well, and like that it's usable on a physical keyboard as well.

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Syonyk - just reading your challenge made me wonder if it is perhaps a mixture of feeling compelled and tethered to your phone ( I wouldn't dream of checking my phone after 10pm:) and selecting apps that are useful and improve your life, instead of time suckers.
Maybe it is simply a case of knowing all the cool stuff one can do that is tempting to you...

Mostly, it's a case of not having really evaluated that particular choice of tech use.  I haven't gone that deep down the social media rabbithole compared to a lot of people, but it was still on my phone, because of course you put that stuff on your phone.  And you charge it by your bed, because... well, that's where you charge phones.  I never really thought through it.

dang1

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2018, 12:52:23 PM »
maybe talk to a mental health professional to get to the root of the temptation

Padonak

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2018, 01:08:31 PM »
You can extend Android phone battery life by either disabling or reducing animation. The article below shows how to do it. It also speeds up the phone, particularly if it's an older phone. Basically, when you open and close apps with 0% animation, they just appear and disappear instead of gradually expanding and collapsing. If you reduce animation by 50%, like i did for my new phone, the animation becomes less elaborate. Seems like a good enough compromise for me.

https://www.androidauthority.com/android-battery-saver-tips-tricks-189882/

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Decrease Animation Scale and Background Process
Time to get into some behind-the-scenes work here. To make these changes, we’ll need to access the Developer Options menu in your settings. However, unless you’ve unlocked Developer Options before, you’re not going to find them anywhere.

To unlock these options, go to Settings > About. Now tap on the Build number repeatedly until you get a notification saying that you have been promoted to Developer status. Congratulations!


Head back out to Settings, and you’ll see a new item just above About: “Developer Options.” Tap this item and scroll down quite a ways. Be careful with the things you change here, as you could significantly change the way your device functions. Stop when you Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale.

Each of these is likely currently set to Animation scale x1. Setting each of these to “Animation off” will not only slightly increase your battery life, but it may increase your phone’s performance as well.

On this same menus, you can scroll further down to find Background Process Limit. By default, this is “Standard limit,” but adjusting it to 3 or 4 processes can slightly increase your battery life and may improve performance as well.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 01:10:29 PM by Padonak »

GuitarStv

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2018, 01:14:00 PM »
Wait, so now we're supposed to use cell phones?

Syonyk

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2018, 01:57:52 PM »
maybe talk to a mental health professional to get to the root of the temptation

Uh.

I mean, theoretically, I could, but I don't consider my cell phone use to be a problem.  It's half an hour to an hour of screen time a day, which includes quite a bit of photo work for blog posts and documentation, typically.

I've worked it down over the past 6 months or so, but I'd wager that the "root of the temptation" is that cell phones are increasingly designed to be an on demand dopamine hit in your pocket.

You can extend Android phone battery life by either disabling or reducing animation.

Did you even read the context you're replying to?

Padonak

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2018, 05:25:23 PM »

Did you even read the context you're replying to?

Yes i did. By reducing or turning off transition animation, you can make your phone more boring, save battery life and make it faster at the same time. Also, maybe other people in this thread will find this tip useful. I was struggling with my old phone and had to recharge it twice a day, sometimes even more often. When I turned off animation, it became much faster and lasted the whole day.

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2018, 05:53:21 PM »
Thanks for the tip Padonak! 

Becoming a "developer" also allowed me to go full monochrome.

Mongoose

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2018, 08:15:18 AM »
We found that smart phones were sucking up time and data when we were out so we downgraded to flip phones. We have a tablet that we can take on trips and use with free wi-FI if needed. Other than that, it's just calls or extremely basic texts. Very much worth the time and monetary savings.

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2018, 08:28:09 AM »
Ha, I did a lot of this from the start. When I got my first smartphone 2 years ago - which I only did because I needed to be able to take credit cards at my craft fairs and use apps like Instagram to promote my business - I told the nice lady at the Apple store, "can you please help me set it up so it NEVER makes noise at me or notifies me about anything except calls and texts?"

I pretty much have it on DND all the time, and I have data turned off for most apps because my data plan is pretty low and I was chewing through data without really doing much with the phone. I was shocked at how some of the apps suck up data just in the background.

I could be better about the social media, though. I have a hard time staying off my phone while I'm waiting for public transport, especially when it is freezing cold and I am miserable. I have managed to switch to a book for the evening commute, though in the morning I still need that Facebook hit to get me awake and going, apparently. :/

crimwell

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2018, 03:27:42 PM »
Just found this thread. Great idea. I've already done a lot of this, for phone performance/privacy/being present when I'm with my family reasons.
Other than apps that came pre installed I can't delete, I only have about 10 apps, and I mostly just use a browser and an rss reader and messenger app. Still use the browser too much.

Grayscale has worked pretty well (I've been using it off and on for a few months). I've also tried setting it down in the bedroom to charge and not keep it in my pocket.

I've got more work to do on getting my phone out from in front of my face..

Rustychase

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2018, 06:55:37 PM »
I don't even have a phone :D

although that is soon to change, so thank you for all these tips on keeping it simple!

Cassie

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2018, 07:13:05 PM »
I have books downloaded for when I a at the doctor etc and love not to have to carry a physical book around.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Make your cell phone BORING!
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2018, 05:52:52 AM »
I’ve been using my phone more than I’d like (including at work), so I'm keen to have a go at this for a while, but I'm going to take a slightly different approach.

I've installed LineageOS on an old spare Moto G I have here, without any Google apps/services.

Tomorrow night I'm planning to install a handful of apps I’d like to continue using (a podcast app, public transport app and a couple of messaging apps), and remove or deactivate everything else, including the web browser, email client and any app store.

Let’s see if I can manage to get through a week without the siren call of a web browser in my pocket wherever I go.

Any emails/web browsing/etc can wait until I get home. I’ll keep my laptop and iPad unchanged.