Apple should battle smartphone addiction, iPod creator says

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What does Tony Fadell,
Tony Fadell wants Apple to help fight smartphone addiction.
Photo: Nest

Former Apple executive, father of the iPod and current Nest CEO Tony Fadell wants Apple to do more to battle smartphone addiction.

In a newly published op-ed, Fadell argues that it would be “easy” for Apple to create a deep dashboard that could reveal exactly how much time we spend on different apps.

“Take healthy eating as an analogy,” he observes. “We have advice from scientists and nutritionists on how much protein and carbohydrate we should include in our diet; we have standardised scales to measure our weight against; and we have norms for how much we should exercise.”

When it comes to our digital “nourishment,” however, Fadell says we have little way of knowing what constitutes healthy.

“I believe that for Apple to maintain and even grow its customer base it can solve this problem at the platform level, by empowering users to understand more about how they use their devices. To do this, it should let people track their digital activity in detail and across all devices. Curbing your data addiction will help you make better decisions. You should be able to see exactly how you spend your time and, if you wish, moderate your behaviour accordingly.”

Fadell suggests that users could receive a regular itemized list like a credit card bill, complete with detailed information about how long they spent on each app, or even what they were doing inside each app.

He argues that Apple would be perfectly placed to be the company that develops such tools, since its business model relies on whether it can sell items to customers; not necessarily how long they spend on them. He ends by suggesting that this could actually wind up increasing sales, since parents would feel happier buying these products for their kids.

Apple is doing its part

Fadell is far from the first person to raise concerns about smartphone addiction — and to ask Apple to do something about it. At the start of the year, activist investors asked the company to look into the public-health crisis concerning young kids and smartphone addiction.

“We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them,” Apple responded to the Wall Street Journal. “We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids.”

The company has said that it plans to incorporate smartphone-monitoring features into the next version of iOS. Whether these will be as detailed as the ones that Fadell suggests, however, remains to be seen. Even if it does, it would be fascinating to find out how many users would use such a feature.

How much responsibility do you think Apple should take for this issue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Wired