Apple and Google want you to put your smartphone down

Your smartphone may as well be an external, battery charged organ at this stage, because few of us could imagine survival without it. 

Even so, excessive smartphone use is now being actively discouraged by tech behemoths Apple and Google. While it may seem like a counterproductive measure to advise users to put down their devices, instead it’s a very smart decision to cultivate healthier relationships with our technological devices.

Many of us are guilty of mindlessly scrolling through our favourite social media apps for hours every day. It’s not entirely our fault either, they’ve been expertly designed to ensure that people remain locked into an endless cycle of active use. Now, however, it seems that the groundwork has been done and the companies can give us a little time to breathe in between liking, sharing and posting.

Apple’s iOS 12 comes with a range of designs to assist users in monitoring and limiting the amount of time they spend looking at their screens. In a report by CNET, the specs were outlined:

‘The new tools, introduced at the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference, let you monitor how much time you spend on your device and in certain applications, like Facebook.

The new features will give you deep insight into how you use your Apple devices, offering breakdowns of how often you’re picking up your phone and which apps are sending you the most notifications. The software lets you track by day, week or month how much time you’re spending on your phone and which apps you’re using the most. You can also set a limit on how much you use your phone, which will cut you off when you’ve reached it.

The features can be synced across devices, so you can’t sneak off and use your iPad to check the latest on Twitter or Instagram.

The new tools also allow parents to set limits for kids to help them better manage their children’s screen time. It can be accessed from the Family Sharing app.’

Drawing a comparison, developer and tech psychologist Nir Eyal references the mandatory introduction of safety belts in the 1960s. Safer cars meant more sales. Perhaps this is what the tech giants are thinking too.

Regardless, even raising the issue of how much we use our smartphones is a worthwhile one, for the answer is probably ‘Too much’. We’ve made them our cameras, communicators, diaries, organisers and more. Having such dependability on one item has undoubtedly created a sense of dependency which should possibly be readdressed at some stage, and that will be a personal responsibility, not a corporate one.

Colin J McCracken

Colin J McCracken is a content designer, editor and writer from Ireland. Giving form and function to the My Good Planet vision, it has been his role to design and develop the online platform, content and presence of the project.

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