We know that our smartphones are making us unhappy. At its annual developer’s conference this week, Google revealed that 70% of its users actually want help balancing their digital lives. What’s not so clear is what the smartphone manufacturers of the world should do about it. After all, it’s in their business interests to make their phones as engaging – or addictive – as possible.
Yet at I/O, Google introduced a clever and aggressive response to its own habit-forming products. It’s a broad initiative called Digital Wellbeing that CEO Sundar Pichai says will ultimately affect every Google product. “It’s clear that technology can be a powerful force, but it’s equally clear that we can’t just be wide-eyed about [it],” said Pichai on stage at Google’s I/O conference. “We feel a deep sense of responsibility to get this right.”
My cinical read on this is that since these are all optional features that will most likely be turned off by default, people will simply never turn them on, unless they themselves have a desire to lessen their smartphone use.