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Can getting rid of apps cure our phone addictions?

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Siempo

Mindfulness is having a moment. I don’t know when it started, but one day my very not-woke friend was into meditation, and then another day my mom was reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and telling me I should only own objects that spark an emotional reaction.

Now, a phone that’s launching on Kickstarter is trying to tap into that same movement. The phone is called Siempo, and it’s based around the idea that we’re not only addicted to our phones, but we’re also not happy about that fact and crave control.

The device’s software aims to give us time away from our most important gadget. Siempo runs on a custom OS based off the Android Open Source Project and is marketed as a “mindful” phone. It doesn’t include an app store. That means no Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. Instead, you get the essentials: phone calls, messaging, Google Maps, notes, contacts, and a clock.

Depending on how much money the company behind Siempo raises, the team might also build out a limited email app or browser. They could allow you to set limits on the sites you access or keep you from interacting with all but your favorite contacts. Without social media to distract you and make you miserable, Siempo’s hope is that we’ll all be off our phones and paying attention to the world.

When you first access the home screen, the phone asks what your “intention is.” This intention field serves as a command line of sorts, so from it, you can send a text to a friend, create a contact, and make a note. There really isn’t much to do on a phone that doesn’t include apps.

Three other features — Pause, Tempo, and Mindful Morning — further enhance the calming phone storyline. Pause mutes all notifications; Tempo pushes notifications out at a set interval; and Mindful Morning is basically a timer that doesn’t allow you to go online for a set number of minutes. That time can be spent meditating, reading, or working out — though that’s all on you. You might be tempted to use your laptop during this time. Don’t do it.

The phone itself is adorable. I only saw a design mockup in person, with the OS loaded on a separate device, but Siempo is cute. It’s designed to have a four-inch, high-resolution display, a small camera on the back, and a 1,600 mAh battery. (The camera’s for personal photos, not sharing.) The company hasn’t released a full spec list yet, as the details are still being ironed out, but I wouldn’t mind carrying this little thing around. It feels like a play phone but with more functionality and the ability to make me mindful. I guess.

Siempo

But here’s the thing: I’m not ready to give up Instagram. I kind of can’t imagine life without it? I know that sounds extreme, and I promise you I’m not an influencer or anything like that, but I genuinely love Instagram. It’s a good app and an easy way to see what my friends are doing. Given that Siempo wants to be your only phone, not a complementary accessory, I don’t think I’m the audience for it. I’m not ready to stop using iMessage, either. But maybe that’s just my phone addiction talking? Maybe if I deleted my apps, I’d have a few days of withdrawal and then, I don’t know, find nirvana.

Siempo starts at $279 on Kickstarter with the goal of shipping by Christmas this year.