Google announces controls to help limit the time we spend on mobile devices

By | 8th May 2018

For decades companies have tweaked and changed their product and/or service in an attempt to get you to use it more often. TV shows do this with cliffhangers, video games do this by making you want to get to that next level, and smartphones have done this with their notifications. Smartphone addiction has become a legitimate issue as of late with studies showing a decrease in REM sleep in those who actively check their devices throughout the night. While this does benefit Google to have you using their products and services more, they are aware that this can be an issue. Today at Google I/O they have announced how they will combat these addiction issues for individuals as well as family members.

Google, Facebook, and Apple are all guilty of using techniques that keep you engaged longer than you may have initially planned. This is done by analyzing the data provided by millions of interactions and then tweaking an algorithm in ways that have shown to increase said engagement. Apple shareholders recently asked the company to create some tools to help combat this smartphone addiction for their children. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has also said that they “didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility” to society when it comes to their website’s algorithms.

Until now, Google has been quiet about the subject, but that changed today at Google I/O. The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, took the stage today during the big keynote speech and spoke about how they are working create “Digital Wellbeing.” One of the ways they will be doing this is with a new “Android Dashboard.” The Dashboard will allow users to see how they are spending their time on the device.

Some of the tools include an app timer, so you don’t use an app for too long. An updated Do Not Disturb feature that allows you to silence everything by simply putting your phone face-down. “Wind Down” is a new mode that changes the color to greyscale to help you wind down and detach from your phone at night.

When it comes to smartphone addiction though, Google is actually ahead of the crowd with a service they previously announced called Family Link. This application lets parents control the amount of time their children can use a smartphone or tablet, and even allows them to manually approve or deny the applications they are allowed to download.