Do you wish you had more control over demands on your attention?
Between work, kids, and constant notifications on your phone, it's hard to focus. Some of us even struggle with a slight phone addiction. Think about it. Have you ever caught yourself repeatedly unlocking your phone or mindlessly toggling between apps without reason? Or maybe you spend way too much time on Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook. Either way, your phone takes up a lot of your attention and, well, life.
Thankfully, Google is adding a new feature to Android that specifically caters to users who want to find the right balance with technology. This feature, called Dashboard, is designed to show you show you not only how much time you spend on your device, but also how you spend time on your device. Android P will come with more granular controls, too, so you can better decide if and when you want to use your phone.
Here's what you need to know.
What is Android P?
Android P is the next major mobile operating system update for Android phones and tablets. It's currently in beta and being tested by developers as well as anyone in the public who wants to tinker around with the software. It's not expected to get an official release until later this year. For more information about Android P, specifically, as well as how you can get it running on your device right now, see Pocket-lint's guides:
What is Dashboard in Android P?
Google holds an annual I/O developer conference in the spring to unveil new products and software updates it is developing. It does this in order to get developers up to speed, so they, too, can update their apps, services, and integrations in time for Google's forthcoming rollouts. This ensures everything will work smoothly come launch day, and so that consumers can immediately enjoy all the new stuff without any issues.
At I/O 2018, Google unveiled new features in Android P, it's forthcoming update to Android devices. One of the new features in Android P is Dashboard. Google described this feature as being part of its new "digital wellbeing" initiative, in which it's focusing on helping people be healthier both in their real lives and in their digital lives. Google found that 70 per cent of people want help with digital well-being.
When people are given the tools to easily disconnect, they can enjoy their lives more and be fully present. Sure, while a lot of the time we spend on our phones is really useful, some of it could honestly be spent on other things - like that sewing project you've been wanting to get done or those garden beds you've been eager to build. So, with Dashboard, Google's adding key capabilities to help you manage screen time.
How does Dashboard work?
Dashboard in Android P will allow you to see how much time you've spent in apps during the day and how many times you've unlocked your device in a day. From Dashboard, you'll also see how many notifications you received in a day. Google said you will be able to drill-down on any of these things. For example, you can tap on an app, like Gmail, to see how much you used the app on, let's say, Saturday.
Developers will be able to provide even more detailed breakdowns so that you can see just how you're spending time in their apps. Google said it's allowing them to do this so that you can determine whether you're experiencing "meaningful engagement" in any given app. For example, Google's own YouTube will be getting a 'deep link' so you can view your total watch time across mobile and desktop.
How will Android P manage screen time?
Yes. Let's say you have an app that you love, like Snapchat, but you're spending more time in it than you realise. Dashboard will let you see just how much time you spend in any given app, and it will let you set a timer on it. But that's just one of several new screen-time management capabilities being added to Android P. Here's a full list - as well as an explanation of how they're intended to work on your device:
Note: Android P is currently in beta testing, so the capabilities listed below are subject to change.
Through Dashboard, Android P will let you set time limits on specific apps. So, for Snapchat, for instance, you can set a timer for 15 minutes or 30 minutes or 45 minutes. Then, your device will nudge you when you're close to your time limit, gently reminding you that's time to do something else. Even better, for the rest of the day, that app's icon will be greyed out to remind you of your goal.
Do Not Disturb
Google is making improvements to its existing Do Not Disturb function. It said people have told them notifications are too distracting, so, going forward, Do Not Disturb will silence not only calls and texts but also visual interruptions that pop up on your screen.
This new tool is part of Do Not Disturb. It works like this: when you turn your phone over on the table, it will automatically enter Do Not Disturb, so you can focus on being present. No pings, no vibrations, no distractions. Of course, in an emergency, if you still want to be reachable, you can set up 'Starred Contacts' - these are people who will still be able to get ahold of you, even if Do Not Disturb is switched on.
Wind down mode
Finally, if you're the type who loves to check your phone right before bed but then ends up spending an hour or more on it, you may be interested in this tool. You'll be able to tell Google Assistant what time you aim to go to bed, and when that time arrives, it will switch on Do Not Disturb. It'll then fade the screen to greyscale, which Google said is far less stimulating for the brain and can help you to set the phone down.
Don't worry. All the colours will return when you wake up.
When will Dashboard be available?
Google said it will be available in the Android P beta this summer. When it becomes available, we will provide more detailed information on how you can find it in your device and get started using it and the new Android P screen-time management controls right away.