Apple debuted a series of tools to combat technology addiction and “fear of missing out” on Monday at its Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, California.
Top software executive Craig Federighi said Apple has “thought deeply” about technology addiction and introduced several new features in conjunction with its new operating system, iOS 12.
“Some apps demand more of our attention than we might even realize. They beg us to use our phone when we really should be occupying ourselves with something else,” Federighi said. “For some of us, it has become such a habit, we might not even recognize just how distracted we have become.”
These features have been expected for months, after shareholders Jana Partners in January wrote a letter to Apple imploring the company to add more parental controls to iPhones and to study the technology’s impact on mental health.
“This is an innovative and thoughtful response to the challenge we put forth, and we commend Apple once again for its leadership and commitment to acting responsibly. While we will review the details and Apple’s follow-through will be important, this looks like a clear win for parents and families, as well as shareholders given that this should strengthen Apple’s ecosystem for years to come,” Jana Partners said in response to Apple’s Monday announcement.
Here are some of the changes, which Federighi said help “limit distraction, focus and understand how you are spending your time.”
“Do Not Disturb during bedtime” lets users quiet notifications in the night, an expansion on the existing “Do Not Disturb” feature. Apple has also introduced a timer feature so users can set specific time limits during which they will not receive notifications.
IPhone users will also get grouped notifications, which means users can dismiss notifications en masse.
Apple will also distribute a once-weekly update to educate iPhone or iPad users on how much and how often they are using their devices. The feature will allow users to set limits on app use, and parents can request activity reports from their children’s devices.
“We think this is something that could help families achieve the right balance for them,” Federighi said.
Google introduced similar features when it unveiled the new version of Android, currently named Android P, earlier this month.
WWDC is an opportunity for Apple to introduce its latest products and features that developers can include in apps for the iPhone and other devices. Apple typically teases iOS updates at the conference and rolls out major changes later in the year.
— CNBC’s Scott Wapner contributed to this report.