Smartphone notifications are the bane of modern existence (yes, really). They pull us out of tasks that require concentration, they distract us from conversation, they prevent lengthy cogitation, they get in the way of effective mastication, and they even interrupt your somnambulation. Okay, not that last one specifically, but it’s no surprise that the likes of Google (in the shape of the upcoming Android P) and now Apple (in the shape of iOS 12, which will be out later this year) have decided to do something about this.
Notifications: FOMO Negation
Apple’s making a subtle change to notifications in the iOS 12 pull-down menu, one which we’re also expecting to (kinda) turn up in macOS Mojave. We’re talking, of course, about stacking up similar items so they don’t look quite so intimidating. If you get a slew of messages from Twitter, for instance, they’ll all live in the same line and you can get rid of them in a single swipe. It’s a small change, but it should have an effect on FOMO — you’re not going to panic quite as much as you would seeing a huge row of notifications from every… single… social… media… service…
Siri is also going to be doing a little back-room curating for you as well. If you’re getting notifications from apps that you don’t really open all that often, Apple’s digital assistant will suggest that you turn off notifications completely for that item. Begone, Flipboard! Nobody likes you.
Screen Time: Keeping Watch
Screen time is almost a buzzword these days among digital types (meaning those who spend most of their time looking at a 6.2in or smaller display). How much is too much time to spend on your phone? Whatever you decide that is, Apple will let you keep tabs your screen time using an app called…. Screentime.
Not only will you be able to see just how much time you spend gawping at posts on Insta or inanely clicking ‘like’ on Facebook, Screentime will also let you set daily limits on the apps you have installed. If you’re spending too much time with the Zuck watching your every move, Screentime will let you scale back your activities. It’ll just notify you that you’re about to cross the three-hour barrier (again), though. You don’t have to stop using the app in question; but now you’ll know that you should feel bad about it.
Allowances: Setting Limits
Kids and apps, man. What are you going to do? Apple has the answer, it believes, and it’ll provide them in iOS 12. For something a little more permanent than Screentime’s little snooze button. Apple’s including a set of tools that can be used to regulate kid’s usage. Parents will be able set a limit on their kid’s app usage and even set a bed-time for overall device usage. If you’re battling to get the brood to go to bed, this is probably… going to annoy them at first. But eventually your home should be quiet.
These so-called “allowances” can be wholly locked down, so that the kids are unable to make any changes on their phones, but they can also be left open so that kids can circumvent those limits in the event of some kind of emergency. Posting your midnight snack on Insta is not an emergency.
Do Not Disturb: Going Dark — Part Deux
Speaking of going to bed, Apple’s making changes to the iPhone’s Do Not Disturb. The notification screen will tone down its colour scheme to a far darker shade in the evening, so you’re not going to catch a notification glow in the eyeballs late at night. You’ll also be able to set time- or location-sensitive Do Not Disturb options, so that your phone will mute or turn itself back on automatically. There’s a little more admin involved but the result is smarter notifications and notifications management, across the board. We’re looking forward to it.