Tag Archives: Digital Wellbeing

Find your balance with new Digital Wellbeing tools

Google I/O is always exciting for me. It’s a great moment when we get to tell the world about a wide range of new products and features that can help everyone do more with technology. Because of how intertwined tech is with every aspect of our lives, how we balance its use with our wellbeing has to be front and center. So, as we did last year, we made time to discuss how our users can find a balance by using technology more intentionally (and that might mean using it less).

Last year, we announced our commitment to digital wellbeing, a company-wide effort to help our users balance their technology use in a way that feels right for them. The idea has taken hold. A recent survey we commissioned found that 1 in 3 Americans have taken steps to improve their digital wellbeing in the last year, and more than 80 percent of them said this had a positive impact on their overall sense of wellbeing.

It’s still early, but we’re already seeing that some of our initial Digital Wellbeing features have helped people take control of their tech use. For instance, app timers have helped people stick to their goals over 90 percent of the time, according to our internal data from March of this year, and people who use Wind Down had a 27 percent drop in nightly usage on average.

Android Digital Wellbeing: Tools for balance

Coming to Android Q

We know there’s much more we can be doing, which is why we were excited to announce a number of new tools and features at I/O last week. We’re making several improvements to existing features, such as giving you more visibility into the status of your app timers, and allowing Wind Down to be scheduled by day of the week. And, building on the success of app timers, we’re extending its functionality to Chrome on Android, which will let you to set time limits on specific websites.

Our devices should help support our intentions throughout the day. Whether it’s work, school or family and friends that we want to focus on, our devices shouldn’t get in the way. Notifications are an important part of keeping you informed, but not all of them are urgent enough to divert your attention. Now you can choose to make some notifications ‘Gentle’. Gentle notifications won’t make noise, vibrate or appear on the lock screen but are always available if you want to browse.

And we created Focus mode, which allows you to temporarily pause distracting apps with a single tap from Quick Settings. Finally, because many people want more positive encouragement, we’re adding the ability  to set a screen time goal with helpful nudges to stay on track.

AndroidQ_Focus Mode.gif

New features for families

For parents, screen time is often a unique challenge; in fact, according to a recent study commissioned by Google, 67 percent of parents are concerned about the amount of time their kids spend on devices. People with kids tell us they love that Family Link lets them set daily screen time limits, but we know that nothing about parenting is black and white. We announced last week that Family Link will roll out new features that enable parents to fine-tune these boundaries by setting app-specific time limits and awarding bonus screen time directly from their own device. (We hope this will also help provide a little balance to family dynamics.)

But tools and features are just part of the solution; for families in particular, communication is key. So on wellbeing.google, we now offer tips and advice from experts, including a conversation guide to help parents talk to their kids about technology use.

We believe technology should improve life, not distract from it, so we’ve made a company-wide commitment to prioritize our users’ satisfaction over the amount of time they spend with our products, and our teams are designing with digital wellbeing as a core principle. We’re focused on improving lives—today and in the future—and digital wellbeing is one of the most important ways we’re working to make that happen.

Sharing what’s new in Android Q

 This year, Android is reaching version 10 and operating on over 2.5 billion active devices. A lot has changed since version 1.0, back when smartphones were just an early idea. Now, they’re an integral tool in our lives—helping us stay in touch, organize our days or find a restaurant in a new place.

Looking ahead, we’re continuing to focus on working with partners to shape the future of mobile and make smartphones even more helpful. As people carry their phones constantly and trust them with lots of personal information, we want to make sure they’re always in control of their data and how it’s shared. And as people spend more time on their devices, building tools to help them find balance with technology continues to be our priority. That’s why we’re focusing on three key areas for our next release, Android Q: innovation, security and privacy and digital wellbeing.

New mobile experiences

Together with over 180 device makers, Android has been at the forefront of new mobile technologies. Many of them—like the first OLED displays, predictive typing, high density and large screens with edge-to-edge glass—have come to Android first. 

This year, new industry trends like foldable phone displays and 5G are pushing the boundaries of what smartphones can do. Android Q is designed to support the potential of foldable devices—from multi-tasking to adapting to different screen dimensions as you unfold the phone. And as the first operating system to support 5G, Android Q offers app developers tools to build for faster connectivity, enhancing experiences like gaming and augmented reality.

We’re also seeing many firsts in software driven by on-device machine learning. One of these features is Live Caption. For 466 million deaf and hard of hearing people around the world, captions are more than a convenience—they make content more accessible. We worked closely with the Deaf community to develop a feature that would improve access to digital media. With a single tap, Live Caption will automatically caption media that’s playing audio on your phone. Live Caption works with videos, podcasts and audio messages, across any app—even stuff you record yourself. As soon as speech is detected, captions will appear, without ever needing Wifi or cell phone data, and without any audio or captions leaving your phone.

On-device machine learning also powers Smart Reply, which is now built into the notification system in Android, allowing any messaging app to suggest replies in notifications. Smart Reply will now also intelligently predict your next action—for example, if someone sends you an address, you can just tap to open that address in Maps.

A phone screen showing a message coming in with an address, and a chip in the notification that opens the address in Google Maps.

Security and privacy as a central focus

Over the years, Android has built out many industry-first security and privacy protections, like file-based encryption, SSL by default and work profile. Android has the most widely-deployed security and anti-malware service of any operating system today thanks to Google Play Protect, which scans over 50 billion apps every day. 

We’re doing even more in Android Q, with almost 50 new features and changes focused on security and privacy. For example, we created a dedicated Privacy section under Settings, where you’ll find important controls in one place. Under Settings, you’ll also find a new Location section that gives you more transparency and granular control over the location data you share with apps. You can now choose to share location data with apps only while they’re in use. Plus, you’ll receive reminders when an app has your location in the background, so you can decide whether or not to continue sharing. Android Q also provides protections for other sensitive device information, like serial numbers.

Finally, we're introducing a way for you to get the latest security and privacy updates, faster. With Android Q, we’ll update important OS components in the background, similar to the way we update apps. This means that you can get the latest security fixes, privacy enhancements and consistency improvements as soon as they’re available, without having to reboot your phone.

Helping you find balance

Since creating our set of Digital Wellbeing tools last year, we’ve heard that they’ve helped you take better control of your phone usage. In fact, app timers helped people stick to their goals over 90 percent of the time, and people who use Wind Down had a 27 percent drop in nightly phone usage.

This year, we’re going even further with new features like Focus mode, which is designed to help you focus without distraction. You can select the apps you find distracting—such as email or the news—and silence them until you come out of Focus mode. And to help children and families find a better balance with technology, we’re making Family Link part of every device that has Digital Wellbeing (starting with Android Q), plus adding top-requested features like bonus time and the ability to set app-specific time limits.

Phone screens showing new Family Link controls in Android Q.

Available in Beta today

Android Q brings many more new features to your smartphone, from a new gesture-based navigation to Dark Theme (you asked, we listened!) to streaming media to hearing aids using Bluetooth LE. 

A grid of logos that demonstrates which devices and brands Android Q beta is available on, including Pixel, Sony, Nokia, Huawei and LG.

You can find some of these features today in Android Q Beta, and thanks to Project Treble and our partners for their commitment to enable faster platform updates, Beta is available for 21 devices from 13 brands, including all Pixel phones.

Source: Android


How Google can help keep your resolutions going through 2019

Get active. Get some extra sleep. Find inner peace. They’re excellent New Year’s resolutions, and they’re also achievable with help from Google. More than 325,000 people with fitness goals for 2019 joined the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge during January to earn as many Heart Points as they could with Google Fit.

After looking at the statistics, Google Fit challengers were a seriously impressive bunch.

Get Fit With Google infographic

In Russia, people went cross-country skiing. In India, people loved their badminton. Brits hit up rowing machines while Americans got into weightlifting. Edinburgh, London and Kawasaki took top prizes for the most active cities around the world—while in the U.S. New York, Boston, and Washington braved the cold and topped the charts.

About four in ten of the people who joined the challenge earned at least 150 Heart Points on average per week and met American Heart Association’s weekly physical activity recommendations.  And seven percent of people achieved all the milestones, earning more than 1500 Heart Points during the New Year Challenge.

Just because the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge is over doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. Google is still here to help you stick to stay fit, sleep better, practice digital wellbeing and live mindfully throughout all of 2019. Here are a few final tools and tricks to make sure your resolutions last all year long.

1. Set reminders in Google Calendar.

Reminders in Google Calendar

Keep up with the goals you set in early January by creating recurring weekly reminders in your Google Calendar. Reminders don’t go away until you actually do the activity, which can be a helpful self-imposed guilt-trip to push you out the door for that weekly run you promised yourself you’d do.

2. Embrace the selfie. 

Whether you’re looking to eat healthier or get more active, actually seeing your progress is a great way to keep focused on your resolution. Take weekly selfies and keep them in a Google Photos album, so you can scroll down memory lane when you need a pick-me-up. If you’re feeling proud about your progress or just enjoy compliment-fishing, share them with a friend so they can help keep you motivated, too.

3. Set up routines to turn your aspirations into habits.

Routines on Google Assistant

Do you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning? Or perhaps it takes you ages to unwind after work? Routines with Google Assistant help build healthy habits by doing multiple things for you with a single voice command. You can personalize them to suit your lifestyle and they’re a great way to set the mood for setting aside “me time.”

4. See how you stacked up with the 2019 #GetFitWithGoogle challenge.

For the last four weeks, six teams of influencers from around the world have been competing against each other to earn the most Heart Points during January.

After overtaking Switzerland in Week 2, Colombia just managed to hold on and take out the inaugural #GetFitWithGoogle challenge with a collective total of 17,465 Heart Points. Switzerland had a strong final week, finishing just 530 points being Colombia in second place—the equivalent of just 15 minutes more exercise per team member per week.

Get Fit With Google leaderboard

Team Belgium had a strong last few weeks to take out third place ahead of the U.S. in fourth.

Check out the top five individual influencers' performances from around the world. Congrats to Melissa Peláez for absolutely killing it, with 6602 Heart Points during January.

Get Fit With Google winners

We hope you all enjoyed taking part in the #GetFitWithGoogle Challenge. And hey, if you lose your way a bit here and there during 2019, worry not. We’ll be right here cheering you along next January, too.

How I used my phone to spend less time on … my phone

I love New Year’s resolutions (the kind you'll stick to by the time January 30th rolls around). The opportunity to improve, feel happier, do more and do better is core to how I want to live. But my real life takes over when holiday break ends, and “do it better” is trumped by “get it done.”

Between work and kids and loved ones and packing lunch and checking homework and ordering birthday presents and making dinner and finding a clean red shirt for Red Shirt Day at school, it seems like there’s no time to work on my resolutions. I'm trying to do more exercising, sleeping and reading (and less ordering in), and my most important goal is being present for my kids. But to make all of this happen, I needed to do the impossible. I needed to find more time in the day.

I started my quest by using some of Android’s digital wellbeing tools last month. I’m relying on a few in particular to help me put my phone down. But to get the most out of these tools, I had to be really honest about how much time I spend on my phone.

I love my phone. It’s an indispensable tool, helping me tackle everything from grocery shopping to playdates to writing this blog post. But it’s also the enabler of what I call “empty” time: time spent too long on an app, site or video that I could have closed 20 minutes earlier than I did. Those are 20 minutes when I could have had a thoughtful chat with my daughter, played a game with my son (he likes Life), done a 10-minute workout, Marie Kondo-ed my sock drawer, chatted with a friend or gone to sleep before midnight.

App timers and Wind Down to the rescue

I’m a former editor and reporter and still a bit of a newshound, so I’m always looking at The New York Times, USA Today, the Daily Mail (for celebrity news and photos), plus a few social media apps. Instead of putting my phone down an hour before bed, I typically look at it one last time, leading me to stay up 15 minutes later than I’d like.

Based on these habits, I set app timers, which force the apps you’ve selected to pause after a period of time, and Wind Down, which turns your screen black and white after a certain time.

Wind Down GIF

I left The New York Times and USA Today timer-free, but went cold turkey and put a five-minute timer on the Daily Mail and a 15-minute timer on my social media apps. I also put a 30-minute timer on Google Play Movies, so I’ll no longer be staying up past midnight on a Wednesday watching “Bridesmaids” for the 51st time.

Minimizing multitasking in the morning

My day starts with the Sunrise Alarm on my Pixel Stand. It mimics the colors of a sunrise to gently nudge you awake, and that’s great for someone who doesn’t get quite enough sleep, like me. I quickly scan the news and email, then put my phone down and get the kids up, dressed, fed and out the door. There’s no time for phone browsing during the morning, though I’ll admit I sometimes peek at social media before I hop in the shower—a major time waster that can lead to a stressful rush out the door.

sunrise alarm gif

On the subway, I do the mini New York Times crossword, scan my apps and read news, and then multitask sending personal texts and pressing work emails. Once I’m done and have an extra 10 minutes, I used to go back to my apps—but not anymore. Now that I have a timer on social media and the Daily Mail, I know I’ve got limited time for the rest of the day, so I do something else—which this month has been reading Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” (Much better choice.) I’ll admit I nearly relapsed the morning after the Golden Globes, when I had only five minutes to look at red carpet fashion, but I persevered.

Focusing on family in the evening

Despite my best efforts to wrap up emails on my evening commute, I usually spend a little time on my phone right when I get home. Here’s where the app timers kick into night duty. If I decide to check out one of my time waster apps, I usually have about 1-5 minutes left on them, so now I put down my phone to start dinner, which means my kids also put down their devices to help me.

After dinner, I begin winding down, letting the kids do what they want while I tidy up, chat with a friend or do laundry. They’re night owls like their mom, so once they’re in bed, I have time to myself, but not much. This is where app timers and Grayscale come to the rescue as a power duo. With Google Play Movies set at 30 minutes, I’m cut off after one episode of “Broad City.” If I’m watching after 11:00 p.m, Wind Down starts, making the phone much less appealing to use. Do I give myself an extra 30 minutes sometimes? Yes. But most of the time, I put the phone in its charger and turn out the light.

New habits for the year ahead

About two months of using these tools, I’m still not exercising. But I am going to bed earlier and reading more. When I find myself checking out a new app that’s becoming a time waster (this week, it was Reddit), I set a timer.

The time I have with my children is the best prize of all. While I still haven’t committed to an entire game of Life (it’s long!), we’ve played many hands of Uno, a few rounds of Jenga, and all hung out together reading our respective books (my kids are into “Sad Animal Facts” and “Galactic Hot Dogs”).

But we’re still in the heat of awards season, so wish me luck staying away from celebrity news.

Find more balance in your life this year, with help from Google

With our phones constantly buzzing and our inboxes filling up, it can sometimes feel like we’re always logged in. It’s easy to forget the importance of making deliberate choices about when we want to use our phones, and to know when we can take a much-needed break from screens.

Looking for more balance in your life this year? Here are some tools that will help you better understand how you’re currently using your phone, get more out your tech and carve out time to be a little more zen in 2019.

1. Take a look at your Digital Wellbeing dashboard.

Android Time Spent feature

The Digital Wellbeing dashboard on Android devices helps you understand how frequently you currently use different apps, how many notifications you receive and how often you unlock your phone. By looking at your usage over time, it’s easy to think about whether you’re getting value from the time spent on each activity and make changes.

2. Cut down on all that scrolling with app timers.

Android app timer

Once you’ve identified apps you’d like to use less often, you can set up app timers so your phone will nudge you when you’re close to your self-imposed limit. The app icon button will then gray out, with a notification to remind you of your goal, when you’ve exhausted the time limit you’ve set for yourself.

3. Use Flip to Shhh on Pixel 3.

Shhh mode on Pixel

For Pixel 3 users out there, if you turn your phone over on a table — like when you’re at dinner — your device automatically enters Do Not Disturb mode so you can focus on being present, not mindlessly checking sports scores or playing a game.

4. Create more family time with Family Link and the YouTube Kids app.

Digital Wellbeing for family and kids

If you have kids, Family Link and the YouTube Kids app allow you to set the digital ground rules for everyone in the household. With Family Link, you can view your children's activity, manage their apps, find apps recommended by teachers, set screen time limits and even lock their devices when it’s dinner or “go outside and play” time.

With the YouTube Kids app, you can decide whether or not your kids can use YouTube Kids search, keep tabs on the videos they’re watching and even block videos or channels you don’t want them to see—along with setting time limits for how long they can play with the app.

5. Get stuff done quickly and focus on what matters to you.

Great technology should improve your life, not distract from it, and a bunch of Google tools are here to help. The Google Assistant offers you downtime from screens by letting you to use your voice to send messages, control smart home devices and play music when you just want to chill. Google Photos automatically stylizes your photos for you, Android Auto minimizes distractions while you’re driving and Gmail’s Smart Compose already helps people save over a billion characters every week by suggesting words and phrases for you as you write.

6. Practice mindfulness and take a break.

Try searching for “mindfulness” in Google Play to download relaxing apps like Headspace, Calm, and many others to kickstart your wellbeing journey. You can also say to your Google Assistant, “I want to meditate” to get a bunch of app recommendations and healing sounds, and the recently updated Google Fit app now has guided breathing exercises for you, too.

7. Keep up with the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge.

With all this extra time, you might even have time to sneak in an extra run this week. We’re now three weeks into the #GetFitWithGoogle global challenge, with just one week to go as our influencer teams race to earn the most Heart Points during January with Google Fit.

Congrats to Colombia for holding onto the lead going into the final week!

Get Fit With Google leaderboard, week 3

Keep an eye on the #GetFitWithGoogle hashtag on Instagram and follow the teams below to follow their fitness journeys. Will Team Switzerland make a final dash for the line? Just one week to go before we announce the overall winners.

Don’t forget to share your own Heart Points progress using #GetFitWithGoogle to help others like you stay motivated.


Source: Android


Get more shut-eye in 2019 with help from Google

After a long day, it should be easy to hit the hay at night. But far too often, just as you’re about to drift off, you decide to check why your phone just buzzed...and you’re back to square one.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Many of us, including yours truly, usually don’t get there.

If you want a fresh start in the new year, here are some tech tips and healthy habits that will help you catch more zzzzs (and get better at counting sheep) in 2019.

1. Set up a bedtime schedule and stick to it with Wind Down.

Wind Down

If you find yourself endlessly scrolling through social feeds or trying to finish just one more level of your favorite game late at night, Wind Down on your Android phone can help you take back control. Wind Down automatically turns on Do Not Disturb and makes your phone less interesting by turning everything grayscale to help you get to sleep at the time you want.

2. Set up Quiet Hours on YouTube.

Quiet Hours on YouTube

Users on both iOS and Android devices can ask the YouTube app to silently send notifications to their phone during a specified time period each day. That means no more sounds or vibrations while you sleep. By default, all sounds and vibrations will be disabled between 10pm and 8am, but you can customize the start and end times to suit your schedule. And don’t worry, updates from your favorite creators will still be right there for you when you wake up.

3. Lull yourself to sleep with soothing sounds.

While complete silence is crucial for some people, others prefer consistent ambient noise to help them get to sleep. If you say “OK Google, help me relax”, the Google Assistant will randomly pick from more than 10 soothing sounds to quietly deliver you to the Land of Nod. You can also pick specific sounds by saying “play fireplace sounds” or “play white noise” once you work out which sounds work best for you.

4. Keep your phone out of reach, and out of mind.

Sunrise Alarm

5. Turn off your lights, and your Wi-Fi.

If you have trouble getting your kids to sleep, Google Wifi has family-friendly controls that allow you to schedule a regular Wi-Fi pause on your kids' devices. That way, your kids aren’t sneakily playing online games under the covers. (And neither are you.)

6. Keep up with the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge.

With all this extra sleep, you’ll have even more energy to spend on your other New Year resolutions like getting fit. For those following along at home from last week, here’s an update on the #GetFitWithGoogle global challenge — a four-week-long competition to see which country’s team of social influencers can earn the most Heart Points during January with Google Fit.

Congrats to Team Colombia for taking the lead on the global leaderboard after week 2!

Get Fit With Google leaderboard

Keep an eye on the #GetFitWithGoogle hashtag on Instagram and follow the teams below to follow their fitness journeys.

Don’t forget to share your own Heart Points progress using #GetFitWithGoogle to help others like you stay motivated.