Smartphone addiction, like nicotine addiction, is real and it has several negative consequences, such as adversely affecting your social life, your ability to work or study, and even messing with how your brain functions. In response, some companies have created apps to help you find a good balance, like Google's Digital Wellbeing. Starting from September 3rd, 2019, Digital Wellbeing will no longer be an optional phone feature but a requirement for all Android manufacturers to implement into their devices.
Digital Wellbeing debuted during the summer of 2018 and was initially limited to Pixel devices before spreading out to more phones. It aims to help you spend less time on your device by tallying the time you spend on each app, letting you set daily limits on some apps, and making your phone duller to use at night by switching everything to grayscale, among other things. Our own Ryne Hager has a more complete breakdown of what Digital Wellbeing does.
XDA Developers got hold of a leaked Google Mobile Services (GMS) document dated September 3rd, 2019, which lays down the rules to follow by all device makers who wish to preload Google's suite of apps and services on their devices. The requirements are very specific: any new and existing product that launches with Android 9 or 10 or is upgraded to Android 9 or 10 after September 3rd must have a digital wellbeing solution with parental controls. Additionally, the feature must be prominent by being located at the top level of the settings app. Google offers device makers some flexibility, however, by allowing them to integrate either its own Digital Wellbeing app or implement their custom solution.
With digital wellbeing soon to become much more prevalent inside our devices, it will hopefully increase our awareness about screen addiction and help some of us regain our freedom from the multitude of screens fighting for our attention.