Bare-bones smartphone "Unlauncher"

Last weekend I posted about realising how much time I've been spending on my smartphone, calling it a "parasitic distraction" [1]. I tried reducing the number of apps on my home screen but the couple of extra swipes needed to get round that rapidly became automatic and annoying! Time for a more drastic solution!

One of the things discussed in the community forum for the de-Googled /e/ custom ROM is alternative launchers to /e/'s own Bliss launcher, which is more reminiscent of an iPhone than Android. This got me wondering whether I could find a more bare-bones launcher to help reduce my smartphone addiction. A little bit of time spent on the /e/ Apps store and F-droid brought me to Unlauncher [2], a downstream fork from Slim Launcher.

It's a de-cluttered interface - stark even. Text based rather than icons. No wallpapers. The home page has the time and date with four lines of text underneath to launch four apps (I've chosen Signal, WhatsApp, Weather and Sudoku), a phone symbol in the bottom left hand corner and a camera in the bottom right. Swipe up and the four lines of text turn into seven (I've added Podcasts, Radio, and Maps for now), with "Options" written in the lower left hand corner and "Apps" in the lower right. Selecting "Apps" brings you to a page of alphabetically arranged scrollable names of your apps, with a search function at the top in case you have too many to easily scroll through. I've gone for the white-lettering-on-grey-background "Jupiter" theme.

This choice won't be for everyone but it is making me think twice about whether I really need to press "Apps" to distract myself. Sometimes I do! ...but often I don't.

[1] Smartphone is a parasitic distraction
[2] Unlauncher on github

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Originally published on my Write.as blog
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