Google's Digital Wellbeing mostly focuses on helping people get a healthier relationship with their phones, warning them when they're staring on their screen for too long or subtly hinting when it's time to wind down for the night. It looks like Google might soon expand that to ensure your physical wellbeing, too. XDA Developers' Mishaal Rahman discovered that the company is working on a feature that warns you to stop using your phone while you're walking.
You know how you use your smartphone, right? Well if you thought "too much," you're not alone. There are plenty of apps out there that claim to help you curb the urges and one of them is called Ratio — it's a launcher or home screen replacement for Android (it's actually more than that in some cases) that's meant to recompartmentalize how you access and consume the things on your phone. But will it help you cut down on your screen time? Well, it turns out that I'm the completely wrong type of person to tackle that question.
Google made some changes to how Digital Wellbeing's "bedtime mode" works back in April, renaming it from Wind Down and adding a "while charging at bedtime" setting. But the company is not done tweaking things, as we've spotted a few new changes, like the option to turn off the always-on display in bedtime mode, and some tweaks to the "while charging at bedtime" notification.
Android is doing its darndest to become a better OS update by update — even beyond the actual OS upgrades. New pushes to Google Play Services and apps will improve how people reach emergency services, get them to bed, and bring the world clearer and closer to those with vision loss.
Bit by bit, Google is building Digital Wellbeing into a powerful smartphone management tool that can help you curb your usage and channel it into more or less productivity, following your needs. With Focus mode, introduced last year, the app gained a quick way to temporarily pause several apps in one fell swoop. Now you can bypass that for five minutes if you really need to open an app while the mode is active.
We've seen a lot of changes to Digital Welbeing ever since it first launched, nearly two years ago, but the feature's main goal has stayed to same: to make it easy for you to curb your app and smartphone usage. The latest change in the app, even though minimal, follows those footsteps. It turns apps into grayscale when there's less than a minute left on their daily timer.
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When it comes to working from home, as so many of are learning, distractions are everywhere. Be it your kids, partner, or simply the opportunity to walk out the front door at a moment's notice, it can be hard to maintain a sense of productivity without proper discipline. Some of us simply may not find the right balance of work time, break time, and off hours to keep ourselves sane, and at that point, work can start to feel like your entire life. When the office never actually closes, you never leave. We have a few apps we think can help you manage your time better, be more productive, and also help you set reasonable boundaries when working from home.
Action Launcher developer Chris Lacy published a Digital Wellbeing competitor last year, ActionDash. While it's lacking the same tight system integration, the app has more features to offer than Google's project, and it even runs on Android versions older than 9 Pie. Over the weekend, Lacy announced that he has decided to sell ActionDash after receiving an offer from SensorTower, which will continue developing the app.
One of the most important components of our health is how we sleep. You might consider it as part of a complete, healthy lifestyle — in which case, you'd use an app like Google Fit to track that data — or you might just be focused on how your screen-based activities at bedtime affect your sleep. In that regard, Google may be deploying a two-pronged solution for you to monitor the quality of your slumber through its Digital Wellbeing app.
Our work/life balance is further out of whack these days than it's ever been. Even with the best time management skills, it's hard to maintain a separation when you're doing that work from home, and often on your personal devices. But tools like Google's Digital Wellbeing can make it a bit easier to stay focused. With it included in plenty of recent phones, do you use any of Digital Wellbeing's tools on your Android phone?