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Pixel ‘Heads Up’ feature wants you to actually pay attention when crossing the road

Google is adding a new feature to its Digital Wellbeing app, which is designed to give users a Heads Up if they’re glued to their phone’s display while walking.

The tool, noted by XDA Developers and is currently in beta, encourages users to pay more attention and focus on their surroundings, rather than their Instagram feed.

If the app catches you looking at your phone while walking, those enabling the feature will be encouraged to “watch your step with Heads Up.”

In a screenshot posted to Twitter by Pixel 4a user Jay Prakash Kamat, the app explains: “If you’re walking while using your phone, get a reminder to focus on what’s around you.”

Related: Best Android phones

“Use with caution,” Google adds. “Heads Up doesn’t replace paying attention.” Once enabled, users may see a notification from the Digital Wellbeing app, encouraging them to “Look up” and “avoid using your phone while walking.” If you’re not walking, you can correct the app.

The feature is currently available in a beta version (version 1.0.342229637.beta) of the Digital Wellbeing app, but the screenshots above are from a Pixel 4a user out in the wild.

It’s not clear whether the feature will arrive imminently or will be promoted by Google as part of Android 12, which is scheduled to be fully unveiled at the Google I/O expo next month. We can imagine this feature will be available on Pixel handsets first, before tricking down to other Android handsets, if previous form is honoured.

Google is also expected to announced the Pixel 5a handset during the event, with the potential for an updated set of Pixel Buds, and potentially more Nest-branded smart home devices. However, the event is traditionally a showcase for Google’s first party apps and services, like Maps, Chrome, Search, Gmail, YouTube and so forth.

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