How to Make a Good Phone

Step 1: Erase Your Phone

You want to start with a clean iPhone to set up your Good Phone. Whether converting your existing iPhone or an old one, erase your device by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Backup your phone before erasing.

Step 2: Download Necessary Apps

After you log into your Apple account, open the App Store and download critical, non-distracting apps. Categories of acceptable apps for a Good Phone are: 

  • Productivity (file sharing, calendar, etc.)

  • Navigation (maps)

  • Travel (airline, hotel, etc.)

  • Finance (banking apps, PayPal, Venmo, etc.)

  • Investing (brokerage apps, but no news)

  • Music (Spotify, Pandora, etc.)

  • Transportation (Uber, Lyft, etc.)

  • Restaurants (Yelp, Grubhub, etc.)

  • Communication (Skype, Duo, WhatsApp, etc.)

  • Health (Calm, etc.)

  • Smart Home (Alexa, Google Home)

Do not add Slack, email, or other apps that encourage urgent/non-important communication. 

Do not add apps focused on entertainment or news content. 

Step 3: Add Google Assistant

Download Google Assistant from the App Store. Adding Google Assistant gives you a single-tab browser that resets every time you close it. This allows you to access a browser in an emergency if you need it, but creates friction to help prevent you from getting lost in the browser. It also provides emergency access to email in the unlikely event you need it.

Step 4: Eliminate Mail, App Store, Safari 

This may be the hardest, but most important, step: giving up email, apps, and the browser. Go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions.

  1. Turn on Content & Privacy Restrictions.

  2. Go to Allowed Apps and turn off Mail and Safari.

  3. Go back to Content & Privacy Restrictions.

  4. Go to iTunes & App Store Purchases, then Installing Apps. Set it to Don't Allow. 

Step 5: Add Passcode to Screen Time

Go to General > Screen Time. Choose Use Screen Time Passcode and create a passcode. Adding a passcode will create additional friction if you want to add back Mail, the App Store, or Safari. For more friction, have a family member or friend create the passcode for you. 

Step 6: Eliminate Badges

Go to Settings > Notifications and go into each app individually to turn off all badges for the apps you've downloaded. Badges are the red icons that appear on apps to tell you there's something new, and you don't need them. Just check apps when you feel like it instead.

Step 7: Turn on Do Not Disturb

Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb. Turn on Do Not Disturb and leave it on permanently. This will prevent notifications from sounding when your phone is locked. You can allow calls and messages from Favorites to still ring by adding Favorites in Phone > Favorites.

Step 8: Set Up Away Text (Optional)

You can optionally set up an "away" message using the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature to let people who text you know to expect a delayed response. We've found this can alleviate the worry about missing messages from your contacts. There are two steps to implement. First, edit your Do Not Disturb While Driving message at the bottom of Settings > Do Not Disturb to your away message of choice, e.g. "I use a Good Phone with minimal notifications. It may take me longer to respond to your message. Please call in an emergency." Second, go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls and add Do Not Disturb While Driving to your Control Center. When you swipe up from the bottom of your screen, you will have access to turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving, aka your away message. 

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