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Apple's new wellness features really, really want to fix your smartphone addiction

The Apple annual developer conference was all about digital well-being

Ujjainee Roy @UjjaineeRoy 5 June 2018, 1:27 PM
You need to put it away

You need to put it away Image: Thinkstock

Apple wants you to put the damn smartphone away — no seriously. The tech giant is addressing the issue of increasing smartphone addiction with new features — we are aware of the irony. But they think it might help.

At Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, which was held at San Jose's McEnery Convention Center on Monday, CEO Tim Cook unveiled a number of digital well-being tools in its iOS 12 software, as a part of its Digital Health initiative. 

Apple has been subjected to a lot of criticism as users pointed out how addictive their technology is, especially for children. In January, two major shareholders requested the company to do something about the issue of "smartphone addiction" among children.

First up is a monitoring app called Screen Time which will let you keep a tab on how much time you spend on your phone. More specifically, how much time you spend on each app. You can also limit the amount of time spent on one app by using a feature called App Limits, which will notify you when your limit for a single time is reached.

So, now you will be fully aware of the four hours you spent on Instagram — doing nothing. Yay!?

Apple is also making space for grouped notifications, which is a solid way of controlling screen time. According to an Inverse report, notifications will grouped by category, and you can open or dismiss the whole thread with a single swipe.

In fact, if you don't want to receive any notifications for a while, you can use the Do Not Disturb feature. The revised Do Not Disturb function will let you choose and set a specific timeline to mute your phone. 

"Some apps send us flurries of notifications trying to draw us in for fear of missing out. For some of us it’s become such a habit we don’t even recognise just how distracted we’ve become,” said Apple’s senior vice-president of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, according to a report in The Guardian.

A new feature called Downtime will let you schedule times of the day when you cannot access specific apps. The first thing you need to do about this is — block Instagram and Tinder when you're in the toilet. You know why.

As a whole, the Digital Health initiative seeks to make smartphone usage more intentional, and less recreational. 

Watch this space for more details.

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