Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
IT | By Jonathon Greene

Apple has new features to limit your phone addiction

Apple has new features to limit your phone addiction

Yesterday, Apple introduced a range of features at its WWDC developer conference that are meant to help you spend less time on your smartphone.

Apple on Monday previewed new controls for limiting how much time customers spend on their devices as the company tackles criticism that its devices are becoming increasingly addictive and distracting. That month, two shareholders wrote the company a letter asking it to address excessive cellphone use to help the mental health of minors. You can also limit the amount of time spent on one app by using a feature called App Limits, which will notify you when your limit for a single time is reached.

Apple also will give users reports on how much time they spend on apps and what gets them to check them constantly. Earlier this year, prominent investors Jana as well as the California State Teachers' Retirement System had been concerned about digital well-being and brought the issue up as a reputational issue the company needed to face.

Statistics back up their concern: Pew Research recently found that 45 per cent of American teens now say they are online on a "near-constant basis". Instead, Apple generates most of its revenue from device sales.

"Its no surprise smartphone manufacturers are looking to build usage controls in their devices, given the high level of self-reported addiction by users", Telsyte principal Foad Fadaghi said.

Opinions differ about whether technology addiction can be a clinical diagnosis.

"Some people believe that addiction can be anything that you overdo to a point where it's a negative effect for your life", he said.

Andrew Campbell, chair of the Cyberpsychology Research Group at Sydney University, suggested that people are not addicted to technology.

Facebook's founding president Sean Parker echoed similar sentiments in 2017, accusing his former employer of using "a social-validation feedback loop" of likes and comments to entice users.

"The tools specifically created to analyse and manage the amount of time kids spends on Apple devices will be a welcome, but potentially alarming new feature for many parents".

Federighi said the tools will come out next year.

New tools were announced to clamp down on Like and Share buttons and other web tools that can track users around the internet.

Technology can help control behaviour, according to Dr Campbell.

"There are more 100 million apps out there for health and wellness", he said. "Here's Apple telling the world: We want you to use our products less".

What I find interesting (and this is consistent with other "mea culpas" happening in tech) is that companies who once saw themselves as benevolent influences on our economy, politics and culture are now trying to apologize for all the trouble they've created - even as they try to entice you to buy more of their devices.

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