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Apple and the dependence on the iPhone: the new tools of iOS 12 will be able to counter the problem?

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Published on Jun 07, 2018

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The dependence on the iPhone – and smartphones in general – has become a real issue in today's society, especially for children, but are, however, many adults do not realize how much they are addicted from your device. The same Tim Cook, during an interview with Laurie Segall of CNN, said that he uses his iPhone more than he should and be concerned of the fact that people are losing the sense of humanity, starting to think like the machines, when, in fact, it should be the opposite.

During the WWDC of 2018, within the presentation of the new features of iOS 12, Apple has shown new tools to counter the excessive use of smartphones. These changes could have been introduced after the request of some Apple shareholders who, at the beginning of this year, sent a letter to the company asking them to do more to reduce the growing dependency on smartphones among children.

The letter cited several studies related to the negative effects of smartphones and social media on the mental and physical health of children, inviting Apple to offer more tools to prevent damage. But there are many users who, over the years, have expressed with insistence at the behest of the effective solutions to prevent their children to spend too much time looking at these small screens.

In a note sent to the Wall Street Journal, Apple said to “reflect deeply” on how they are used its products and the impact they have on users and on the people that surround them:

We take very seriously this responsibility and we pledge to satisfy and exceed the expectations of our customers, especially when it comes to protecting children.

And so, as expected, during the last WWDC, the california-based company has responded to the requests of funders and users, introducing the new monitoring features. These are the declarations of Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President Software Engineering of Apple:

In iOS 12 we provide users with tools and detailed information to help them understand and better control the time spent using apps and web sites, how often you take in hand your iPhone or iPad during the day, and how many notifications they receive. In 2008 we introduced the parental controls on the iPhone and since then our team has worked hard to add new features that allow parents to manage the content used by children. With Screen Time, these new tools are meeting users who want help to manage the time of use of the device, and to find a balance between the many things that for them are important.

Screen Time is a new feature introduced in the Settings of iOS 12 that provides useful information on the time spent in the app and on the web sites. The function is able to create Activity Reports daily and weekly, in which are shown the total time spent in each app, the time dedicated to the various categories of app, the number of notifications received and how often the user takes in hand their iPhone or iPad.

Understanding the way in which they interact with their iOS devices, people can monitor the time dedicated to an application or a particular web site, or to a particular class of applications. The App Limits also allows you to set the maximum time that you can devote to an application: when the limit is about to expire, the user will be warned with a notification.

The Screen function Time is perfect for anyone who wants to understand and better manage the use of their own device, but is particularly useful for families with children. Parents can access the Activity Report of the children directly from your iOS device, so as to have a clearer picture of the activities of the children, in addition to the ability to manage and set limits in the App Limits.

Screen Time offers to the parents and also the possibility to program a time interval during which the children may not be able to use the iOS device, for example at night. When the function Downtime is active, the app notifications are not displayed and the app appears with a badge indicating that it is not possible to use them. The parents may choose to make available specific apps, such as Phone and iBooks, which will then continue to function even in the lockout period or after the expiration of a usage limit that was previously set.

Screen Time is based on the account and it works on all devices iOS of the child, therefore, settings, reports, and limits take into account the total utilization of all devices. Screen Time works with the “family” iCloud and is easy to configure. Parents can configure the settings of Screen Time remotely for their children within the same group as “family” or locally on the device of the child.

The improvements of the do Not disturb mode in iOS 12 make this time-management tool even more effective and help users to avoid distractions, in particular moments, for example while studying or when in class, a meeting or dinner. The new mode Do Not Disturb during Bedtime helps you sleep better at night, reducing the brightness of the display and hiding all of the notifications on the lock screen until the user will decide to view them the following morning. In addition, there are new options for do Not disturb in the Control Center, from where you can set the mode because it turns off automatically at a certain time or in a specific place.

To help users to reduce distractions, iOS 12 offers more options to control the reception of notifications. You can manage the notifications at the moment, disabling them entirely, or choose to send them directly to the Notification Center. Also, Siri can offer intelligent suggestions for the settings of the notifications, recommending, for example, to disable it, or disable alert sounds, depending on the type of notifications with which you are interacting. iOS 12 also introduces the function Group and Notifications, an easier way to view and manage multiple notifications at a time. The notifications, in fact, will be grouped by application, and just a touch to open a list or a swipe to clear all together.

This is a feature that is very pleasing for everyday use, because it creates confusion to see a long list of notifications and try to identify which are the most important.

Are the ten years that we use iPhone: during this period, our behavior and our habits have changed so much that Apple, like other companies, tech companies, it has had to introduce functions to help us not to be overwhelmed by our smartphones. And already this should make us reflect.

In addition to being a paradox that a company that produces smartphone developments tools to avoid these addictive, I find it deeply sad that it has to be right on our smartphones to invite us to use it less, or worse, to tell us how to control the children.

Regardless of the utility of Screen Time, the children would, perhaps, need of rules and good examples to follow, examples that show and teach them the live interaction with other people and the importance of the time they have available, and not as continually check your notifications on social networks, or how to overcome the level of a new game.

Personal considerations aside, do you think the new features introduced by Apple in iOS 12 will be really able to effectively combat the dependence on the iPhone, focusing on the awareness of the users?

I remind you that the new features will be available in iOS 12, the new version of the firmware for the iPhone and iPad, the release of which is planned for next autumn. The public beta of the software, instead, will be released in the course of this month. For a complete overview of the new firmware, I invite you to read our dedicated article.

The article Apple and the dependence on the iPhone: the new tools of iOS 12 will be able to counter the problem? comes from iSpazio.

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