The effect of smartphone, tech and social media use on our mental health and wellbeing is a huge ongoing discussion, and now Google is taking steps to make sure that Android phones make a more positive contribution.
Google is demanding that wellbeing measures become a compulsory feature of Android phones, according to XDA Developers.
Having created the Digital Wellbeing App, which initially only reached its own Pixel smartphones, Google is now asking all of its manufacturing partners to make sure a Digital Wellbeing solution is present on the Android phones they build and sell.
“We obtained a copy of the latest version of Google’s GMS Requirements document,” XDA Developers has written.
“This document details the technical requirements that Android smartphones and tablets must meet in order for OEMs to receive Google’s approval to preload Google Mobile Services, Google’s suite of apps and services that include the Google Play Store, Google Play Services, and more […] Subsection 3.4 details the ‘App Specific Requirements’ for each Google app, and the first part talks about what OEMs have to do to meet Google’s new requirements for Digital Wellbeing and Parental controls.”
One of the Google’s Digital Wellbeing App’s key features is built around a cornerstone of mental health: sleep. The ‘Wind Down’ feature applies a grayscale effect and a Do Not Disturb mode. Google hope this will help users to manage their sleeping pattern and cut down on unhealthy habits, like late night social media scrolling.
The app also helps users monitor and control their smartphone usage. It relays information to the user on screen time, the amount of times you’ve opened a given app, and the notifications you’ve received.
Bar charts show peaks and troughs across the days of the week, which could help smartphone users notice if they have particular bad habits built around a weekly event, or something in their schedule.
Focus mode helps users do just that, focus. It temporarily shuts off certain apps, so, if you’re habitually distracted by, for example, Twitter, you can turn it off for a few hours and find your focus.
Related: Best smartphones
The Family Link app is being integrated with the Wellbeing app, too. This is less revolutionary but no less useful. It helps in the setting of parental controls.