The relentless ping of daily incoming messages, notifications, and emails can occasionally prove distracting even amongst the most ardent of technologists. But what if those digital interruptions born from mobile devices could be hushed temporarily, limiting features to a more reasonable drip rather than an incessant flow? Envelope by Special Projects was devised for this exact purpose.
Developed as part of the Google Digital Wellbeing Experiments platform, Envelope proposes a simple solution, temporarily transforming modern smartphones – specifically the Google Pixel 3a – into the modicum of connectivity. Offered as two free templates, those seeking digital solace are invited to print, fold, and glue together their own envelope “cover” according to needs and load a compatible Android app to unlock a simplified experience.
Once outfitted with its paper cover, an Envelope-contained Pixel operates pared down to the basics, only capable of making and receiving calls. A secondary cover design permits use of a smartphone’s camera for photos and videos, but conceals the end result, suggestive of the delayed gratification of a film camera.
In either case (pun intended), Envelope aims to establish a healthier tangible relationship between user and devices by temporarily severing the umbilical cord of obsessive peering at the screen throughout the day. And because it’s just a paper case, it’s easy enough to unleash your device if/when additional features are needed.
If you’ve got a Google Pixel 3a, download the Envelope pdf and print it out to make your own envelope right now.