Google likely bringing Digital Wellbeing to Assistant and Google Home

By | 10th September 2018

 

  • An APK teardown of the Google app suggests that Google is revamping the settings pages of Google Assistant.
  • Within those changes, it looks like Digital Wellbeing features are also coming to Assistant and Google Home products.
  • Digital Wellbeing tools already appear in Android 9 Pie (beta), YouTube, and Google Calendar.


A recent APK teardown of the Google app by XDA Developers suggests that Google is experimenting with a total revamp of the settings pages within the Google Assistant app. This is a welcome change, as the Assistant’s settings pages are kind of messy right now (to say nothing of Google Home’s settings).

Within that settings revamp for Google Assistant, 9to5Google found a new label for some tools within the app: Digital Wellbeing. It appears that Google is bringing Digital Wellbeing tools and settings to Google Assistant, which in turn means that the features are also coming to Google Home hardware.

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For those of you who don’t know, Digital Wellbeing is the catch-all term Google created to refer to its new initiative to focus on the healthy use of technology. Since we are increasingly becoming more addicted to our day-to-day tech — especially smartphones — Google feels a responsibility to offer tools that will help people disconnect and focus on their non-digital lives.

The main suite of Digital Wellbeing tools is in beta right now within Android 9 Pie. We’ve had some time with it and it’s been a very sobering experience.

According to 9to5Google, the Digital Wellbeing settings within the Google Assistant app don’t actually do anything yet, but we can make some assumptions based on what is shown. If you look below, on the left you’ll see the newly-designed settings page prior to the appearance of Digital Wellbeing, and on the right you’ll see the updated version:

The change from “Family Tools” to Digital Wellbeing is pretty self-explanatory, in that Google is making the feature set cohesive across applications. The two new options under Digital Wellbeing — Filters and Downtime — we assume refer to a way to filter applications, settings, and games from within Google Assistant (most likely to prevent children from accessing them), and a way to program times of the day when Google Assistant is unavailable on Google Home hardware.

This is just speculation at this point, but it’s very likely that’s what these tools do.

Unfortunately, APK teardowns don’t give us any indication on when we can expect to see the changes rollout to users; in fact, sometimes changes found in an APK never make it to release at all. But given Google’s emphasis of the importance of Digital Wellbeing and its distribution to Android 9 Pie, YouTube, and Google Calendar, it wouldn’t be surprising if more and more Google apps see similar features.

NEXT: YouTube’s own “Digital Wellbeing” tools available now for all