Apple: let developers help iPhone users with mental wellbeing.
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Research shows that problematic smartphone use can negatively impact mental and physical health. Earlier this month, Google announced a suite of tools to help people achieve balance in their digital lives, citing that 70% of users wanted help with their digital wellbeing. We can assume that the majority of iPhone owners also need support to manage their smartphone habits, but as yet there are limited tools available to them.
Unfortunately, as digital wellness developers, we are restricted in our ability to help the iOS user base, due to the nature of Apple’s operating systems. We have millions of iPhone supporters waiting for us to make our innovative tools available to them, but all we can do is offer unsatisfactory products, or encourage them to switch to Android.
Some of the tools we have been able to offer for users of our Android products include:
- Replacement home screens. Give the users opportunity to take control of their home screens by decluttering and dimming.
- SMS autoresponder / Auto-set DND / Batching notifications. Provide users with tools to control how and when they receive communication and notifications.
- Screen covers. Allow insightful and useful interruptions to nudge users towards healthier behaviors.
- Contextual modes. Provide users with tools to limit access at certain times or locations, for example, for our children in school.
- Phone usage monitoring (without using geo-services). Provide users with a view of their phone habits without developers having to track their location, which is unnecessarily invasive and wearing on battery.
- App usage insights. Provide users with insights about which apps are really consuming their time.
- The list goes on….
Meanwhile, iPhone users are hashing solutions to make their phones less distracting. The leading solution so far appears to be a manual, 12-step, back-door, unintelligent “grayscale” trick.
We ask that Apple commit to opening its SDK to developers to allow us to make the changes to the iOS interface and user experience that consumers are demanding.
In order to prevent potential abuses of greater access to APIs and permissions, we anticipate and welcome a strict approval process so that well-intended developers can demonstrate how their products will improve the wellbeing of iOS users.
By honoring this request, Apple will unleash a wave of innovation and network effects from a passionate developer community, reinforcing Apple’s brand as a leader in technology for human flourishing. More importantly, it will provide hundreds of millions of iPhone owners of all ages with access to tools to help them lower stress, maintain focus and allow them to have more time for human connection.
We are looking forward to this year’s WWDC and hope you will consider our request.
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