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A little over one week after Apple investors urged the company to do more to protect children from smartphone addiction, a new column by The New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo has looked into potential ideas that Apple could implement in a future iOS update to curb addiction for all users, including kids.

Manjoo spoke with Tristan Harris, former design ethicist for Google and owner of Time Well Spent -- an organization that works to improve technology's impact on society -- and Harris offered a few suggestions for ways Apple could help combat smartphone addiction. While Harris's ideas are not confirmations for features coming to iOS in 2018 and beyond, it is an interesting glimpse into potential solutions Apple might implement if it decides to tackle this issue down the line.

tim-cook-iphone-x.jpg

To start, he suggested a way for Apple to offer feedback on the iOS devices that customers use, imagining a weekly report that would include the time spent within apps in a sort of ranking system. Users could then set prompts for future weeks that would pop up when their time spent in a specific app is reaching their set limit.
Imagine if, once a week, your phone gave you a report on how you spent your time, similar to how your activity tracker tells you how sedentary you were last week. It could also needle you: "Farhad, you spent half your week scrolling through Twitter. Do you really feel proud of that?" It could offer to help: "If I notice you spending too much time on Snapchat next week, would you like me to remind you?"
Harris then focused on notifications, which have long been an area that iOS users have asked to be updated. The new idea was for more granular, "priority level" notifications that Apple would require to be placed on every app. Harris explained there would be three levels for "heavy users, regular users and lite, or Zen," and then Apple would have to pen the rules for which notifications would go to each level.

So, for example, if someone chose the medium "regular" level, a DM from a friend on Instagram would appear on the lock screen. But at the same time, something less important -- like when Instagram sends out a reminder to view a friend's Story -- would be prevented from appearing. "And then Apple could say, by default, everyone is in the middle level -- and instantly it could save a ton of users a ton of energy in dealing with this," Harris explained.

If Apple implemented similar features, Manjoo pointed out that it could set a precedent for the industry as a whole.
Every tech company needs a presence on the iPhone or iPad; this means that Apple can set the rules for everyone. With a single update to its operating system and its app store, Apple could curb some of the worst excesses in how apps monitor and notify you to keep you hooked (as it has done, for instance, by allowing ad blockers in its mobile devices). And because other smartphone makers tend to copy Apple's best inventions, whatever it did to curb our dependence on our phones would be widely emulated.
Following the investors' open letter last week, Apple stated that it thinks about its products' impact on users, and it takes this responsibility "very seriously." With a larger spotlight being shined on the issue, Harris said that now is Apple's "time to step up" and really get behind anti-addiction features for its devices. Harris went on to say that in regards to this problem, Apple "may be our only hope."

Article Link: Design Ethicist Imagines How Apple Could Help Combat Tech Addiction in Future iOS Updates
 

kappy94

macrumors newbie
Oct 28, 2015
16
90
Here's what I don't really get... what science is backing this up? When has tech addiction ever been diagnosed? Is it bad for your health? If so, how does it negatively impact your health? This isn't based on anything.




A little over one week after Apple investors urged the company to do more to protect children from smartphone addiction, a new column by The New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo has looked into potential ideas that Apple could implement in a future iOS update to curb addiction for all users, including kids.

Manjoo spoke with Tristan Harris, former design ethicist for Google and owner of Time Well Spent -- an organization that works to improve technology's impact on society -- and Harris offered a few suggestions for ways Apple could help combat smartphone addiction. While Harris's ideas are not confirmations for features coming to iOS in 2018 and beyond, it is an interesting glimpse into potential solutions Apple might implement if it decides to tackle this issue down the line.

tim-cook-iphone-x.jpg

To start, he suggested a way for Apple to offer feedback on the iOS devices that customers use, imagining a weekly report that would include the time spent within apps in a sort of ranking system. Users could then set prompts for future weeks that would pop up when their time spent in a specific app is reaching their set limit.
Harris then focused on notifications, which have long been an area that iOS users have asked to be updated. The new idea was for more granular, "priority level" notifications that Apple would require to be placed on every app. Harris explained there would be three levels for "heavy users, regular users and lite, or Zen," and then Apple would have to pen the rules for which notifications would go to each level.

So, for example, if someone chose the medium "regular" level, a DM from a friend on Instagram would appear on the lock screen. But at the same time, something less important -- like when Instagram sends out a reminder to view a friend's Story -- would be prevented from appearing. "And then Apple could say, by default, everyone is in the middle level -- and instantly it could save a ton of users a ton of energy in dealing with this," Harris explained.

If Apple implemented similar features, Manjoo pointed out that it could set a precedent for the industry as a whole.
Following the investors' open letter last week, Apple stated that it thinks about its products' impact on users, and it takes this responsibility "very seriously." With a larger spotlight being shined on the issue, Harris said that now is Apple's "time to step up" and really get behind anti-addiction features for its devices. Harris went on to say that in regards to this problem, Apple "may be our only hope."

Article Link: Design Ethicist Imagines How Apple Could Help Combat Tech Addiction in Future iOS Updates
 

cocky jeremy

macrumors 601
Jul 12, 2008
4,809
2,941
This is idiotic. First, everyone is responsible for themselves. It isn’t Apple’s job, in any way, to try to control how much people use their devices. Secondly, who cares if someone is on their phone “too much”? What’s it hurt? Nothing. Go away with this junk.
 

radiology

Suspended
Feb 11, 2014
377
1,389
Westlake, OH
It is a parent's job to monitor kids phone usage, not a corporation's.
Yes and no. Smoke is harmful for you. It is up to you to decide if you are going to smoke or not. But, if smoking is adictive, the company making the cigarettes have a responsibility in this as well. The same thing applies to addictive electronic devices. We will have a very serious issues in the very near future if we don’t do something now.
 

kappy94

macrumors newbie
Oct 28, 2015
16
90
Great suggestions. I’m all for it. This is a real problem that society and Apple should not ignore.
on what basis?
[doublepost=1516206264][/doublepost]
Great suggestions. I’m all for it. This is a real problem that society and Apple should not ignore.
It is a parent's job to monitor kids phone usage, not a corporation's.
why does it even need to be monitored, how is health negatively impacted?
 

GrumpyMom

macrumors G4
Sep 11, 2014
10,572
15,921
This is idiotic. First, everyone is responsible for themselves. It isn’t Apple’s job, in any way, to try to control how much people use their devices. Secondly, who cares if someone is on their phone “too much”? What’s it hurt? Nothing. Go away with this junk.
At first my reaction was the same as yours, but if I’m reading this correctly, it’s just basically timers the user has the choice to set up for him/herself and instead of an alarm going off, they get a parental nag from their iPhone.

When I was on FB I did find my sense of time got distorted. I have such an accurate body clock I usually can tell myself when to wake up and I do without setting an actual alarm, though I always do as a backup. I go through my day running to the cadence of this internal clock.

But my “internal timer” doesn’t work when I’m on FB for some reason. It’s fine when I’m posting here. Not a problem.

I do lose track of time on formats where clicking one thing leads you to yet another comment or conversation. I left FB so don’t need a “nag” to help me set limits for myself. But if I were still on it I’d definitely use the proposed feature.
 

thisisnotmyname

macrumors 68020
Oct 22, 2014
2,428
5,179
known but velocity indeterminate
And because other smartphone makers tend to copy Apple's best inventions

that is going to get under some people's skin here =))

I would like to be able to control notifications more granularly. For example I want notifications from companies like Postmates when my food is about to arrive but I don't want their notifications about promotions or to reorder from somewhere I previously purchased. I wish there were a way to tag a notification type and then block by type.
 
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jav6454

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2007
20,841
4,805
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
Yes and no. Smoke is harmful for you. It is up to you to decide if you are going to smoke or not. But, if smoking is adictive, the company making the cigarettes have a responsibility in this as well. The same thing applies to addictive electronic devices. We will have a very serious issues in the very near future if we don’t do something now.

Your own example indicates my point. Technology should help aide a parent do his/her job, not do it for them. Putting controls that "curb" addictions is asking a tech company to watch over your kid. It has become too hard for many parents to do the right thing and either ground a kid who won't listen or take away whatever is causing the addiction. Why bring Apple (or XYZ company) in?
 

hagjohn

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2006
1,425
2,945
Pennsylvania
Just put a count down timer on the phone that the parents can set and control and when the timer hits 0, data, games, etc... shut down until the next day.
 

GrumpyMom

macrumors G4
Sep 11, 2014
10,572
15,921
Folks this article isn’t just about parenting tools. It’s focused on the adult owners of iPhones and proposing a tool to help us monitor our own usage. Optionally. It’s a setting you can choose to activate. Or ignore as you choose. Edit: the article says it can be used for kids but the focus is on adults.
 

jel888

macrumors member
Jan 17, 2018
37
37
Europe
Firstly, note that the suggested app would not just be for children. Second, it's not just about negative health impact, though I am certain that prolonged and regular use of smartphones and PCs have a negative health impact (even if it were as simple as finger cramps for the phones). It's about time management and optimization of what you do (you might simply want to focus less in an app versus another). Lastly, loads of apps exist that do this, so I hope if Apple goes in this direction they start where others have already treaded versus coming up with some reduced function capability. And as a note: Huawei is ahead of them already I do think in this area (and a few others), so they need to step it up!
 
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ThisBougieLife

macrumors 68030
Jan 21, 2016
2,863
9,308
SF Bay Area, California
It is a parent's job to monitor kids phone usage, not a corporation's.

And many parents don't want to step up to the plate, especially if they are addicted to tech themselves. My friend gives her 5-year-old son an iPad to keep him quiet and it's no surprise that he becomes enraged when she tries to take it away (after he's been at it for hours).
 
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