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The next big set of features coming to most modern smartphones might actually make you use your device less — and that’s probably a good thing.
Apple is reportedly developing new native digital health tools for its upcoming iOS 12 operating system, according to a recent report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Currently, the exact details about the tools remain pretty scarce.
Presumably, the digital health tools will include ways to monitor and manage how much time a user spends on their iPhone. That will come in handy for parents hoping to curb smartphone addiction in children, or adults who simply want to unplug from their devices more.
This functionality already exists in iOS — sort of. Users can find information about time spent in apps in the Battery menu in Settings.
But iOS 12 might package more in-depth information into a new place and implement better ways to block incoming notifications or calls. Apple could even introduce features or options to help users limit or restrict smartphone use.
That last bit might be speculation, but it seems probable based on recent trends in the smart device sphere. Google recently unveiled its own suite of “digital wellbeing” tools for its new Android P operating system.
Google’s tools allow for users to see how much time is spent in individual apps, how much time is spent on smartphones and general, and even allows for users to set time or usage limits for themselves.
Rumors about iOS 12 “digital health” tools come at a time when smartphone makers — and Apple in particular — are under increased scrutiny for the alleged addictiveness of their devices.
In January, two top Apple investors called on the Cupertino tech giant to do its part tackling smartphone addiction among children. And in March, an advocacy group also urged Apple to implement new iOS features that would help combat an increasing “smartphone addiction epidemic.”
Similarly, this week, another group called the Digital Wellness Warriors launched a Change.org petition calling on Apple to open up third-party developer access to iOS’s UI SDKs. That way, developers could implement their own digital wellbeing tools directly into their apps, as well as the iOS user interface itself.
While Apple is unlikely to grant access to UI SDKs ahead of its own wellness tools, these petitions hint at a new direction for the industry as a whole. With both Android and iOS reportedly onboard, it seems like digital health and wellbeing features are likely the next frontier for devices and mobile operating systems.
While we don’t know the scope or specifications about Apple’s digital health tools, we won’t have to wait long to find out. The company is slated to unveil iOS 12 and its features at its WWDC ’18 keynote, which kicks off at 10 a.m. Pacific on Monday, June 4.
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