With the release of Android Pie (9.0) came a slew of new features and possibilities. One new tool focuses on helping users understand how they interact with their technology. That tool is Google's Digital Wellbeing.
The idea behind Digital Wellbeing is helping users better balance between their digital and real worlds. You may scoff at the notion, but look around you. Everywhere you turn, users bury their heads in their screens, rarely interacting with one another in real time. Even in the office, people opt to communicate via messaging or email rather than face to face. Social media has become such a distraction it keeps you from being productive while on the go. Google saw this issue and decided to do something about it. That something is Digital Wellbeing.
With Digital Wellbeing, users can see:
- Overview of digital habits.
- How frequently different apps are used.
- How many notifications are received.
- How often the phone is checked.
Digital Wellbeing allows users to:
- Set app timers.
- Configure Do Not Disturb.
- Manage notifications.
- Set Flip to Shhh.
- Use the Wind Down to help disconnect at night.
How do you get Digital Wellbeing?
Here's the trick: At the moment, Digital Wellbeing is only available for Pixel Phones. Even if your device is running Android Pie, unless it's a Pixel, you won't be able to enjoy Digital Wellbeing. Once the app comes out of beta (there is no date), it will become available to general Android Pie users. Until that point, no Digital Wellbeing for you.
Where do you find it?
If you have a Pixel device running Android Pie, you'll be surprised that (by default) Digital Wellbeing isn't found in the app list within the App Drawer. Instead, open Settings and scroll down until you see the Digital Wellbeing entry (Figure A).
Tap on the Digital Wellbeing entry to view the main page (Figure B).
From that main page, you can reach the Digital Wellbeing dashboard, which displays specifics on what apps you used that day and how much time you spent on those apps - Figure C).
From the Digital Wellbeing dashboard, you can locate an app you've used excessively, and set a timer that allows you to only use the app for a set period of time. To set an app timer, locate the app in question from the Digital Wellbeing dashboard and tap the timer drop-down (Figure D).
Once you set the timer, you can only use the app for that amount of time (at which point the app will be grayed out in the App Drawer). If you attempt to open the app, you will be warned that it can only be opened by changing the settings (Figure E).
If you find you need (or want) to use a timed out app:
- Open Digital Wellbeing.
- Navigate to the Dashboard.
- Find the timed-out app.
- Tap the timer drop-down.
- Select No timer.
The app should now be available to use again.
Quicker access to Wellbeing
If you don't want to always gain access to Digital Wellbeing through the Settings app, you can always opt to make it available from within the App Drawer. To do this, open Digital Wellbeing and, from the main window, scroll to the bottom and tap to enable Show icon in the app list (Figure F).
The Digital Wellbeing Wind Down feature allows you to set a bedtime schedule. Wind Down:
- Turns on the Night Light feature to avoid stressing your eyes.
- Adds a bedtime reminder (all color on your device will shift to grayscale to remind you it's past your bedtime).
- Do Not Disturb will mute sounds.
To set this feature, tap the Wind Down entry in the main window and walk through the simple set-up wizard. Once the wizard is complete, you can then set the times to start and end Wind Down (Figure G), as well as enable/disable grayscale and Do Not Disturb, as well as enable the Night Light schedule.
If you find your head buried in your phone too much, Digital Wellbeing can help. Make use of this tool, and you might become more productive on the go, with the added bonus of being more "well."
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.