New Google OS Has Tools to Help With Your Tech Addiction
Are you addicted to your phone? Google is developing new controls, expected in Android P, intended to pry you away from your smartphone and YouTube.
They include an "app timer," a "wind down" feature and a dashboard that'll tell you how much time you've been spending on your smartphone and in which apps.
Starting this week, Google-owned YouTube will also introduce reminders that can tell you to take a break from the video-streaming service.
At Google I/O today, CEO Sundar Pichai said these controls are all part of the company's new "digital wellbeing" initiative, which is designed to help consumers keep their tech habits in check.
"There is increasing social pressure to respond to everything right away," he said during a keynote. "People are anxious to stay up to date with all the information out there."
"Our team has heard so many stories from people who are trying to find the right balance with technology," added Sameer Samat, Google's VP for product management.
As part of that push to help people disconnect, the upcoming Android P will come with a dashboard that breaks down smartphone use into a handy pie chart. In addition, the OS will include an app timer that'll let you cap the time you spend in favorite apps.
Google is also revamping the "Do Not Disturb" mode with Android P. To activate it, just turn your phone over on its screen, Samat said, though in an emergency, "starred contacts" will still be able to reach you.
To ensure your phone doesn't keep you up at night, Android P is getting a "wind down" feature. To use the feature, select a time for your phone to enter "Do Not Disturb" mode; the phone's screen will shift into grayscale.
"I've found it amazing how quickly I put my phone away when all the apps go black," Samat said.
Google last year introduced a free utility called Family Link that lets parents control their children's Android use. But the new features announced on Tuesday are aimed at everyone. "Digital wellbeing is going to be a long-term theme for us, so look for much more to come in the future," Samat said.
In February, a group of former Apple, Facebook and Google employees formed an anti-tech addiction coalition called the Center for Humane Technology. In recent months, university students and investors have also called on Apple to offer more tools that can limit iPhone use, and thereby prevent social media from overtaking people's lives.
Earlier this year, Facebook said it would be priortizing posts from friends and family versus publications and brands because research suggested people were less likely to feel depressed after using Facebook if they engaged with people rather than experiencing the site passively.