Buzzing alarms, incoming texts, email notifications, breaking news: From the time we open our eyes in the morning until we close them at night, our phones are a constant source of information, engagement and, let’s face it, stress. Have you ever been tempted to leave your phone behind or joked about the “glory days” of the flip phone, just so you wouldn’t feel so beholden to that sleek little brick in your bag? Us, too. Fellow peace-seekers, take heart. This week, Apple unveiled boundary-setting technology to help us manage our relationships with our smartphones.
To help us improve our focus, lessen distractions and get a handle on how much time we’re actually engaging with our phones (looking at you, Instagram), Apple will incorporate new “unplugging” features in the OS update, to be released in September. While some of the features have been around for years, the new updates will make them more readily available and intuitive to use—that means no more digging deep into your settings to try and configure your preferences.
The truly new (and dare we say, most exciting?) features include a “Screen Time” dashboard that tracks how much you’re using your phone, and to do what. It will not only notify you how much time you’re spending on which apps, but will also tell you how many times you pick up your phone throughout the day. Screen Time will allow you to set customized limits on your apps, then notify you when you’ve reached your time limit. You can then ignore and proceed with use, or stop engaging.
You’ll also be able to control “Do Not Disturb” functions across all your devices with a single touch, blocking calls, notifications and texts from everyone except those on a customized VIP list. Do Not Disturb can also be scheduled, synced with your calendar or you can geolocate it. Notifications that come in while it’s enabled can be routed to a notification center, where you can peruse at your leisure.
Apple is even addressing the growing concerns parents have about their children’s relationship with technology. Parents will be able to monitor their kids’ usage on their own phones. The new Downtime feature will allow them to lock their children’s phones after a certain time, allowing access to only certain features like an alarm clock or a calculator.
As we continue to navigate the complicated relationship we have with technology, setting boundaries, even if we need Apple to help us do it, is the perfect starting point for achieving a bit more daily peace—no flip phone required.