Thankfully, Google is adding a new feature to Android that caters to users who want to find the right balance with technology. Called the Digital Wellbeing dashboard, it8217;s in the Android settings menu and is designed to show your smartphone usage habits. It also provides access to helpful tools like app limit timers and a “wind down” mode to help you focus on going to sleep.
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Android 9 Pie is the next major mobile operating system update for Android phones and tablets. It8217;s currently rolling out to Pixel and Essential phones as an over-the-air update. However, this 8220;official8221; release does not include all the features shown off at Google I/O, including Digital Wellbeing. These will come to Pixel devices sometime this autumn and even more devices sometime after that.
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At I/O 2018, Google unveiled new features in Android Pie, it8217;s latest update to Android devices. One of the new features in Android Pie is the Digital Wellbeing dashboard. Google described it as being part of its new 8220;digital wellbeing8221; initiative, in which it8217;s focusing on helping people be healthier both in their real lives and in their digital lives. Google found that 70 per cent of people want help with digital well-being.
When people are given the tools to easily disconnect, they can enjoy their lives more and be fully present. Sure, while a lot of the time we spend on our phones is really useful, some of it could honestly be spent on other things 8211; like that sewing project you8217;ve been wanting to get done or those garden beds you8217;ve been eager to build. So, with the dashboard, Google8217;s adding key capabilities to help you manage screen time.
If you have a Pixel device, and you’ve already installed the latest Android 9 Pie OS update, which is now rolling out to Pixel devices as an over the air update, you’ll be able to try out the new software tool ahead of its official launch sometime this autumn.
- Install Android 9 Pie on your Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, or Pixel 2 XL.
- Go to Google’s Digital Wellbeing Beta website.
- Enter your email address.
- Select “yes” for the “Do you have Android Pie on your Pixel?” question.
- Soon after, you’ll get an email with an invite to begin testing digital wellness.
- Click the link in this email to accept the invite and begin testing.
- Within 24 hours, you’ll see Digital Wellbeing appear in your Android settings.
- There’s nothing to download, install, or update.
The Digital Wellbeing dashboard in Android8217;s setting menu allows you to see how much time you8217;ve spent in apps during the day, how many times you8217;ve unlocked your device in a day, and how many notifications you received in a day. Google said you will be able to drill-down on any of these things. For example, you can tap on an app, like Gmail, to see how much you used the app on, let8217;s say, Saturday.
Developers will be able to provide even more detailed breakdowns so that you can see just how you8217;re spending time in their apps. Google said it8217;s allowing them to do this so that you can determine whether you8217;re experiencing 8220;meaningful engagement8221; in any given app. For example, Google8217;s own YouTube will be getting a 8216;deep link8217; so you can view your total watch time across mobile and desktop.
Through the dashboard, Android Pie will let you set time limits on specific apps. So, for Snapchat, for instance, you can set a timer for 15 minutes or 30 minutes or 45 minutes. Then, your device will nudge you when you8217;re close to your time limit, gently reminding you that8217;s time to do something else. Even better, for the rest of the day, that app8217;s icon will be greyed out to remind you of your goal.
Google is making improvements to its existing Do Not Disturb function. It said people have told them notifications are too distracting, so, going forward, Do Not Disturb will silence not only calls and texts but also visual interruptions that pop up on your screen.
This new tool is part of Do Not Disturb. It works like this: when you turn your phone over on the table, it will automatically enter Do Not Disturb, so you can focus on being present. No pings, no vibrations, no distractions. Of course, in an emergency, if you still want to be reachable, you can set up 8216;Starred Contacts8217; 8211; these are people who will still be able to get ahold of you, even if Do Not Disturb is switched on.
Finally, if you8217;re the type who loves to check your phone right before bed but then ends up spending an hour or more on it, you may be interested in this tool. You8217;ll be able to tell Google Assistant what time you aim to go to bed, and when that time arrives, it will switch on Do Not Disturb. It8217;ll then fade the screen to greyscale, which Google said is far less stimulating for the brain and can help you to set the phone down.
Digital Wellbeing is in beta until this autumn, before expanding to Android One and other devices “later this year8221;. Again, if you want to test the dashboard before then, you8217;ll need to join the new beta 8211; after installing Android 9 Pie on your Pixel.
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