Smartphone notifications driving you nuts? New Siempo phone will leave you in peace

A phone without Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat -- and no Google Play Store?


The Siempo introduces the concept of intentions, which restricts you to actions that have an intended or planned purpose.

Image: Josh Miller/CNET

You probably like that your smartphone keeps you in contact with friends and up-to-date on news, but sometimes checking just one notification, which you could have flicked away with a quick reply, leads you down the rabbit hole of social media.

Many people welcome the distraction smartphones provide -- say, while waiting for a bus, commuting, or basically any moment when we used to daydream -- but others consider it a modern illness in need of cure.

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The designers of a new concept smartphone called Siempo hope to offer salvation to the crowd in search of that cure, by helping people tune out while staying more connected than they would by reverting to a feature phone.

Siempo's California-based designers tapped experts in "behavior design, psychology, neuroscience, and mindfulness practices" to come up with this basic Android phone that promises to give people "the uninterrupted time we all need".

Siempo's makers have launched a Kickstarter campaign for the hardware, but were able to demonstrate the concept to CNET on a Nexus 5. If funded, the phone will cost $349.

The Siempo offers a browser, camera, maps, notes, music, and email apps, but it cuts out all social media and even lacks the Google Play Store. That's probably a deal breaker for many smartphone owners, but it definitely will cut down on distractions for those who don't want them.

According to one of Siempo's founders, the brand was formerly known as Minium, which was touted as a similar concept in 2015 but featured physical keys and a small touchscreen. It also aimed to help people feel more focused, less distracted, and more aware.

The Siempo introduces the concept of intentions, which restricts you to actions that have an intended or planned purpose. So, if you need to message someone, you type in the contact's name or type out a reminder and that gets saved to a to-do list.

Notifications are the other big distraction on smartphones, and the Siempo offers a way to schedule these into batches that get dumped at selected intervals up to one hour. You can make exceptions for important contacts or silence notifications for a certain period, say during a meeting. There's even a hardware button to silence notifications with one click.

With all these distractions cut out of your life, the Siempo then lets you get on with self-improvement via different timers for writing, meditating, or exercising.

If funded, the phone will feature a 1GHz quad-core CPU, four-inch screen, 8GB storage, and 1,600mAh battery.

Those specs do make the phone seem expensive, but those who lack the self-control of a Buddhist monk, yet still want to attain mindfulness, might be willing to pay for a phone that imposes it.

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