Apple iOS 12 doubles down on iPhone addiction

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Over the past few years, there have been growing complains regarding smartphone addiction. Parents, in particular, have voiced their opinions urging smartphone manufacturers to provide tools to curb this excessive usage. Earlier this year Google introduced a feature to rein in smartphone usage. And now during the #WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple has also introduced a similar feature with iOS 12.

Apple announced new tools built into iOS 12 to help customers understand and take control of the time they spend interacting with their iOS devices. These new features, available later this month as part of the iOS 12 public beta, include Activity Reports, App Limits and new Do Not Disturb and Notifications controls designed to help customers reduce interruptions and manage screen time for themselves and their families.

iOS 12 adds new features to Do Not Disturb, making this time management tool better by helping to not get distracted during times of studying as well as during a class, meeting or dinner. There is also a new Do Not Disturb during Bedtime mode to help people get a better night’s sleep by dimming the display and hiding all notifications on the lock screen until prompted in the morning. Do Not Disturb has new options from Control Center where it can be set to automatically end based on a specified time or location.

To help reduce interruptions, iOS 12 gives customers more options for controlling how notifications are delivered. Instantly manage notifications to be turned off completely or delivered directly to Notification Center. Siri can also make suggestions for notifications settings, such as to quietly deliver or turn alerts off, based on which alerts are acted upon. iOS 12 also introduces Grouped Notifications, making it easier to view and manage multiple notifications at once.

To help customers further understand how they are spending time with apps and website, a new feature called Screen Time creates detailed daily and weekly Activity Reports that show the total time a person spends in each app they use, their usage across categories of apps, how many notifications they receive and how often they pick up their iPhone or iPad.

By understanding how they’re interacting with their iOS devices, people can take control of how much time they spend on a particular app, website or category of apps. The App Limits feature allows people to set a specific amount of time to be in an app, and a notification will display when a time limit is about to expire.

Screen Time is useful for everyone to better understand and manage their device usage but can be particularly helpful for kids and families. Parents can access their child’s Activity Report right from their own iOS devices to understand where their child spends their time and can manage and set App Limits for them.

Screen Time also gives parents the ability to schedule a block of time to limit when their child’s iOS device can’t be used, such as at bedtime. During Downtime, notifications from apps won’t be displayed, and a badge will appear on apps to indicate they are not allowed to be used. Parents can choose specific apps like Phone or Books that will always be available, even during downtime or after a limit is spent.

This feature is similar to the one previewed in Android P where users have the ability to set time limits for each app.

Screen Time is account-based and works across all of a child’s iOS devices, so settings, reports and allowances are based on their total usage. Screen Time works with Family Sharing and is quick to set up. Parents can configure Screen Time settings remotely for their child within the same Family Sharing group or locally on a child’s device.

iOS 12 will be made available in the fall of 2018 and is expected to launch alongside the release of the next generation flagship iPhones.