While Android and iOS are busy kicking lumps out of each other, they’re also nicking the other side’s ideas – or at least coming to the same conclusion regarding important trends.
The most important right now is using your phone less.
Given that Apple’s cash pile mostly stems from iPhone sales and that Android is hugely important to Google, it might sound counter-intuitive for these companies to, respectively, unveil Screen Time and Dashboard/App Timer. Both systems are broadly similar, outlining app/game usage and providing tools to cut yourself off from a specific app or genre after a user-defined time limit.
Should you fancy bashing the hyperbole button, you might now scream “NANNY STATE!” at the top of your lungs. At which point, you might also concede you’ve a bit of a problem. In fact, humanity as a whole has a bit of a problem regarding screens – which is the point Apple and Google are making.
It was one thing when you’d once sit with someone in a pub and watch their eyes occasionally wander to a TV on a stand nailed to a wall. But now everyone has a metal and glass despot in their pocket or lurking in front of them on the table, things are so much worse.
The rationale people use when excusing themselves and prodding at their phone for far longer than they realise is that it’ll only take a moment. But as they get a shot of dopamine for completing each task (thanks, brain!), those ‘moments’ add up.
Before you know it, you’ve frittered away hours of your day on busywork (“I’ll just check all my email and social networks in case someone’s sent me something vitally important during the last eleven seconds”) and mobile games, annoying people around you by focusing on your phone rather than your interaction with them.
Data is cold, but enables you to make changes. You can’t wave away an Instagram habit when the numbers state you spent 17 hours using the app this week alone.
And while timer controls are brute force, consider them a useful tool to find balance in your phone usage and life, rather than yet again having “just one more go” on an app or game you’ve already had several more goes on today.