Google looks out for your digital wellbeing

The Google Digital Wellbeing dashboard will allow users to see how much time they spend on certain apps.
The Google Digital Wellbeing dashboard will allow users to see how much time they spend on certain apps.

Google has introduced a portfolio of new tools to South Africa, called Digital Wellbeing, which it says will help smartphone users understand and track their digital habits.

According to research conducted by Android: "In addition to the perceived social obligation to respond to alerts very quickly and be available all the time, the sheer volume of engaging activities facilitated by smartphones can make it hard for people to break the habit of constant device interaction."

The new tools in YouTube, Gmail and Android will help users take control of their digital lives and form healthy tech habits.

Available on the new Android operating system, Android 9 Pie, a dashboard tells users how much time they have spent on each app, how many times they have unlocked their phones and how many notifications they have received.

From this dashboard, users can set time limits on certain apps, and will receive "nudges" or notifications when they approach their limit. The app icons will also be greyed out on their apps page after the limit is reached to remind them not to use it.

There is an updated 'Do Not Disturb' function within the operating system, which silences phone calls, texts and all notifications that pop up on screen and will automatically be turned on when the user places the phone upside down.

There is also a 'Wind Down' feature, which prepares a user's device for bed time, at a time prescheduled by the user, where night light that reduces blue light is activated, and the phone's display is set to grey-scale.

Within the YouTube app, new digital wellbeing tools include reminders to take a break from watching after a few hours, a time watched profile, the ability to disable notifications or instruct that notifications appear in a suggested digest with all notifications for the day.

Within Gmail, high priority notifications will be available within the mobile app, which will use artificial intelligence to only notify users of important e-mails.

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