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Developer | Technologist | Engineer

Dumb Smart Phones

My “week” without Google

Tasked with the mission to see what life is like without using Google for a week, this is my strategy.

We live in a world where technology is omnipresent and pervasive. Phones (smartphones) offer constant access to the endless stream of data. What does it take to disconnect?

Can we chuck the phones? Some people resort to (or decided to stay with) flip phones. While it’s a very effective method, there are lots of utilities having a smartphone brings.

but is there a middle ground? This is what I propose.

Step one:

iPhones have the option to disable data in certain apps. If you navigate to Settings > Cellular you should see a screen similar to this.

Normal smartphone screenshot

A typical iPhone network settings page (apps vary)

Step two

Just turn everything off besides phone ¯\(ツ)

Dumb phone screenshot

Turning off all data on apps besides the phone

Step three

Win. You now have a dumb phone.

How did it all play out?

When I was home or at the school I would have wifi turned on to have access to my phone. However, by turning off wifi I could choose to have a “dumb phone”. This was especially refreshing when I was going out to see friends or going to events to not have access to things like email, facebook, instagram, etc.

It was however, a nuisance when I needed to use Google Maps. Looking up directions on the fly is a luxury I have become far too accustomed to.

Another downside is that turning off cellular data for an app does not turn off push notifications. Even when not being on wifi, push notifications come through. Possible solutions would be go between every app and turn off notifications, or just put the phone into airplane mode.

Final verdict

It was great being reminded (forced) to stay present in the moment instead of checking up on an email or browsing twitter. This was a great way to see just how often I would instinctively check my phone. Next iteration I would like to also solve the notifications problem, but this time around it was a great experiment.