Google Presents New Digital Wellbeing Tools
- 2019-10-24 19:00
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The announcement of new tools for tracking and organizing your overall Android usage last year showed quite clearly that Google started taking digital hygiene very seriously. Now, the company is trying to expand the set of its wellbeing features by adding new instruments, like improved parental controls and unlock counter. These tools may not be too useful yet, but they can already be used to raise awareness about the risks of uncontrolled usage of mobile devices.
The main feature of the entire digital wellbeing platform is a dashboard that tracks everything you do on your mobile device. The dashboard can show you how often you unlock your phone, how much time you spend on each of your apps, and so on. Google encourages developers to add their own tools to the dashboard that would gather more detailed and varying data on that app usage. The company states that the main goal of introducing these new tools is to reduce the so-called idle screen time – like meaningless scrolling of a news feed.
The platform has already seen a lot of interesting apps added to it. Some of them are almost useless, compared to the standard, more traditional tools – but they sure force you to start questioning your digital habits. There is this app, Unlock Clock, that simply shows you how many times you have unlocked your phone today. This may sound primitive, but you can’t just ignore the fact that you’ve looked at your mobile device, say, a hundred times in only a few hours.
Another app introduced by Google, We Flip, broadens the parental control options by installing some kind of a kill switch. Flipping the switch can lock a couple of devices at once, preventing a family or a group of friends from using them. Other apps tend to focus more on app usage management. Desert Island limits the usage of your mobile device to only the most essential apps. You choose them beforehand, and then you stick only to them for a whole day.
Meanwhile, Morph changes the apps available to you during the day, so you can avoid distractions and remain focused. This idea is not new: similar tools have already tried to make this kind of digital self-control popular, but the concept just wasn’t too appealing – and Apple prevented these tools from customizing the interface of iOS devices too much. But with the rising popularity of the overall digital hygiene movement, Google’s idea has considerable chances to take off at last.
Of course, Google is trying to do something about notifications, too. They seem to be the most annoying kind of distractions, and no wellbeing app will work if they keep forcing you to unlock your phone again and again in only a couple of minutes. The Post Box app is aiming to eliminate this unending series of notifications once and for all. The concept is simple: Post Box holds all of your notifications until you consciously decide to read them. This allows you to stay more relaxed and focused on your work.
Trying to shield you from constant digital distractions, Google isn’t afraid to take even extreme measures. The latest invention under the wellbeing label allows you to print an automatically generated booklet with the critical information you may need during the day, like a weather forecast, contacts and important tasks, and so on. This way, you won’t have to look at your phone at all. And even if it won’t be that useful, Google hopes that other developers will be inspired by these experiments and make something better out of these ideas.
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