Phone ad­dic­tion tack­led with new Screen Time app

Late is bet­ter than never, writes Michael Si­mon

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Af­ter vow­ing to ad­dress the grow­ing con­cern of smart­phone ad­dic­tion ear­lier this year, Ap­ple is now mak­ing good on its word. Dur­ing the WWDC key­note, Craig Fed­erighi took some time to spot­light some of the new fea­tures in iOS 12 de­signed to help users get a grip on their smart­phone habits. Rather than roll out small per­func­tory ca­pa­bil­i­ties,

Ap­ple is jump­ing right into the game with a slew of ma­jor changes that put it on par with Google’s im­pres­sive ef­forts in Google’s An­droid P. There are three com­po­nents of Ap­ple’s new dig­i­tal health ini­tia­tive: Do Not Dis­turb, No­ti­fi­ca­tions, and a new app called Screen Time. Work­ing to­gether, they rep­re­sent a whole new way to get a han­dle on how you use your iPhone and keep it from bug­ging you too much.

Do Not Dis­turb

Ap­ple’s Do Not Dis­turb fea­ture in iOS al­ready lets you keep no­ti­fi­ca­tions and alerts from buzzing and ping­ing you when you’re at a meet­ing or the cinema, but Ap­ple is en­hanc­ing its abil­i­ties in iOS 12 in sev­eral ways. It starts with the end of your day: bed­time. Ap­ple is un­veil­ing a new mode for Do Not Dis­turb specif­i­cally de­signed for your night­stand, which keeps the screen black un­til morn­ing. Turn it on and noth­ing will get through un­til you wake up.

Ap­ple is also of­fer­ing greater con­trol over Do Not Dis­turb, with con­trols built right into Con­trol Cen­tre. Tap the icon and you’ll get new op­tions to set a spe­cific end time for Do Not Dis­turb, and with lo­ca­tion aware­ness, you’ll also be able to tell it to turn off when you leave a spe­cific area, like when you’re at the park with your chil­dren or hav­ing lunch with a friend.


No­ti­fi­ca­tions are prob­a­bly the big­gest an­noy­ance in iOS, and fre­quency isn’t even the big­gest prob­lem, or­ga­ni­za­tion is. With iOS 12, Ap­ple is chang­ing the way we re­ceive no­ti­fi­ca­tions, and it could have a ma­jor

im­pact on the amount of time we need to flick through them.

First and fore­most, Ap­ple will be group­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tions in iOS 12, so you won’t need to scroll through dozens of Mail or Twit­ter no­ti­fi­ca­tions ev­ery day. Alerts will be grouped by app, topic and thread, and you’ll be able to clear or triage all of them with just a swipe. Ad­di­tion­ally, Ap­ple will be adding new set­tings for no­ti­fi­ca­tions that let you long-press on an alert to get new ac­tions, such as turn­ing off fu­ture no­ti­fi­ca­tions from the app or let­ting you turn on silent mode. And Siri will get in on the game as well, of­fer­ing sug­ges­tions to turn off no­ti­fi­ca­tions for apps that you don’t use of­ten.

Screen Time

While the en­hance­ment to no­ti­fi­ca­tions and Do Not Dis­turb are nice, the big­gest changes to iOS’s dig­i­tal well­ness is with Screen Time. Much like An­droid P’s new Dash­board, the app will pro­vide a se­ries of daily re­ports that let you keep tabs on how much time you’re spend­ing in your favourite apps and how many no­ti­fi­ca­tions you’ve re­ceived, so you can try to cut down on your us­age. To help in that re­gard, Ap­ple is also pro­vid­ing a new dial that will let you set lim­its on how much time you can use an app. When you tell

Screen Time how much time you want to spend us­ing In­sta­gram, for ex­am­ple, an alert will let you know when the timer is near­ing its end and full-screen mes­sages will block your ac­cess when you try to launch an app that has reached its time limit. And since your set­tings stay synced across all of your de­vices, you won’t be able to cheat by switch­ing from your iPhone to your iPad. (Don’t worry, you can over­ride your de­ci­sions in the event of an In­sta­gram emer­gency.)


While lim­it­ing our own screen time is im­por­tant to our metal health, it’s loads more im­por­tant for our chil­dren.

While Ama­zon and Google each have apps that let par­ents set re­stric­tions for how much time young ones can use their de­vices, Ap­ple failed to im­ple­ment any kind of parental con­trols in iOS 11, lead­ing to some pointed crit­i­cism of the com­pany.

That’s chang­ing in a big way in iOS 12. With the Screen Time app, Ap­ple is of­fer­ing par­ents a new in­ter­face for con­trol­ling what their chil­dren can see and how long they can see it. With full re­mote man­age­ment, par­ents will be able to cre­ate ‘al­lowances’ for chil­dren us­ing dif­fer­ent de­vices, set­ting lim­its based on us­age and time of day. There will also be eas­ier re­stric­tions set­tings that limit spe­cific apps and cat­e­gories, or sim­ply cut off cer­tain types of con­tent. Fi­nally, par­ents will also be able to set apps that can al­ways be used, such as Mes­sages or Phone.

No­ti­fi­ca­tions will fi­nally be grouped in iOS 12

Par­ents will get much greater con­trol over their chil­dren’s screen habits in iOS 12

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