This Phone Will Improve Your Focus and Cut Out Distractions

And six other tech companies promising blessed peace of mind

By Kirk Miller

This Phone Will Improve Your Focus and Cut Out Distractions
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15 March 2017

Every time you stop what you’re doing and check your phone, an angel dies.

False aphorisms aside, your productivity and peace of mind are not being helped by technology.

Enter Siempo.

The new standard bearer of the Slow Tech Movement, Siempo is a smartphone designed to improve concentration, avoid distractions and ease your mind.

Siempo started when co-founder Jorge Selva was working out of country at a non-profit, and purposely left his iPhone behind. “I remember thinking, wow, I feel more productive, happy and present,” he says.

Rather than simply removing features, Siempo has all the brains of a modern smartphone but does away with outside noise, from Slack notifications to unwanted texts to social media anything. “Right now the devices we own are designed to trigger our reptile brains,” says Selva. “It’s impossible to not act on those notifications. This is about breaking out of that flow and building better habits.”

So Siempo simplifies your choices. It all starts from a home screen (the “Intention Screen”) that allows you to text, look up a contact, call or write a note. No apps.

That’s pretty much it, outside of maps.

siempo (2 images)

A few other features:

Pause: Think of this as a digital timeout. A dedicated button allows you a 15+ minute respite from all but the most necessary notifications. You can, however, set up backdoors so favorites and calls come through.

Mindful Morning: Before you do anything with your phone, this timer makes you complete a series of predetermined routines (writing, reading, exercise, etc.). “It’s about creating better morning habits,” says Selva.

Tempo: This batches all your notifications to arrive at once, ensuring uninterrupted time to work.

Coming soon: Well, not an app store. Ever. But you will see pared down versions of email and a browser, which you’ll have to “opt in” to use. You’ll be able to set it up so only a few designated favorites can reach you. And you’ll be able to limit time on specific websites: say, an hour a week on Facebook.

At launch, Siempo will be available for AT&T and T-Mobile users at a retail of $349, with early bird pricing starting at $279 (and, given your lack of usage, data will be much cheaper month to month). Units will ship by Christmas.

As with any Kickstarter, this is buyer beware. However, we did see a prototype of the hardware and played around with the software, so we can vouch that the company is pretty much ready to go.

Why not just go the software route? According to Selva, iOS and, to a less extent, Android are too restrictive ... and just using restrictive apps don’t work. “People who use those apps start with good intentions, but it’s too easy to circumvent,” he says.

If you're interested in more Slow Tech, ahem, tech, Selva has a few suggestions and some products and apps that served as inspiration for Siempo:

Freedom: An app that limits specific website usage.

( OFFTIME ) and Moment: Phone apps that help you be more aware of the sites you’re going to and limit how long you spend on them.

The Light Phone: A credit-card sized phone for basic call features.

Punkt: A more design-focused dumb phone.

Time Well Spent: Former Googler Tristan Harris heads this movement to introduce ethics to technology, including the removal of dark behavior patterns.

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