Former iPod Chief Tony Fadell Believes Apple Should Tackle Smartphone Addiction

Tony Fadell, who was instrumental to the creation of the iPod, believes Apple should tackle the issue of smartphone addiction.

steve jobs eddy cue tony fadell phil schiller jony ive and scott forstall

Tony Fadell, second from the left, alongside Steve Jobs and other Apple executives following the original iPhone announcement in 2007

In an editorial with Wired UK, the former Senior Vice President of the iPod division said Apple can solve the problem at the software 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," said Fadell. "You should be able to see exactly how you spend your time and, if you wish, moderate your behavior accordingly."

Fadell said his solution would essentially be like a digital scale to monitor time spent in apps, web browsing, and other tasks:

We need a "scale" for our digital weight, like we have for our physical weight. Our digital consumption data could look like a calendar with our historical activity. It should be itemized like a credit-card bill, so people can easily see how much time they spend each day on email, for example, or scrolling through posts. Imagine it's like a health app which tracks metrics such as step count, heart rate, and sleep quality.

He added that Apple could also let users set their device to a "listen-only" or "read-only" mode, but it's unclear how this would differ from Apple's existing Do Not Disturb mode, which can be enabled when an iPhone is locked or unlocked.

Fadell believes Apple is "particularly well-placed to tackle this problem," and that implementing these tools wouldn't be difficult.

Fortunately, it appears that Apple is already working on improved parental controls similar to what Fadell outlined. More specifically, Bloomberg News reported that iOS 12 will feature "new features for parents to better monitor how long apps are being used for by kids and their overall screen time."

In January, Apple confirmed it is working on "even more robust" parental controls following pressure from investors to do more to curb smartphone addiction. The new controls would likely extend to the Mac and other devices.

Fadell's editorial was first published in the May-June issue of WIRED magazine, as part of a series of articles about "Apple's next move."

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Top Rated Comments

ToneDriver Avatar
82 months ago
While I agree that these kinds of things should be done (tracking detailed usage metrics, etc.), I'm getting tired of people taking no personal responsibility for their lives. Yeah, it's hard to put down the device sometimes. It's hard to put down those cookies and that bag of chips sometimes. Life takes a bit of sacrifice and self control. That's how it goes.

Everyone has a part to play in it, but it feels like the responsibility is constantly being put at the feet of companies, teh government, and people other than ourselves.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Spacetime Anomaly Avatar
82 months ago
You have to admire the man for not bowing to peer pressure and eschewing the denim look.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NachoGrande Avatar
82 months ago
I've already taken my iPads from my kids. It's tough to get them to disconnect. Both my husband and I consciously leave our phones in our pockets when ever we're out.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Delgibbons Avatar
82 months ago
('https://www.macrumors.com/2018/04/16/tony-fadell-apple-should-tackle-iphone-addiction/')


Tony Fadell, who was instrumental to the creation of the iPod, believes Apple should tackle the issue of smartphone addiction.


Tony Fadell, second from the left, alongside Steve Jobs and other Apple executives following the original iPhone announcement in 2007

In an editorial with Wired UK ('http://www.wired.co.uk/article/tony-fadell-apple-iphone-addiction-control-design'), the former Senior Vice President of the iPod division said Apple can solve the problem at the software 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," said Fadell. "You should be able to see exactly how you spend your time and, if you wish, moderate your behavior accordingly."

Fadell said his solution would essentially be like a digital scale to monitor time spent in apps, web browsing, and other tasks:He added that Apple could also let users set their device to a "listen-only" or "read-only" mode, but it's unclear how this would differ from Apple's existing Do Not Disturb mode, which can be enabled when an iPhone is locked or unlocked.

Fadell believes Apple is "particularly well-placed to tackle this problem," and that implementing these tools wouldn't be difficult.

Fortunately, it appears that Apple is already working on improved parental controls similar to what Fadell outlined. More specifically, Bloomberg News ('https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-30/apple-is-said-to-push-back-some-key-iphone-software-features') reported that iOS 12 will feature "new features for parents to better monitor how long apps are being used for by kids and their overall screen time."

In January, Apple confirmed it is working on "even more robust" parental controls ('https://www.macrumors.com/2018/01/08/apple-urged-do-more-protect-children-from-phones/') following pressure from investors to do more to curb smartphone addition. The new controls would likely extend to the Mac and other devices.

Fadell's editorial was first published in the May-June issue of WIRED magazine, as part of a series of articles ('http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/april-2018') about "Apple's next move."

Article Link: Former iPod Chief Tony Fadell Believes Apple Should Tackle Smartphone Addiction ('https://www.macrumors.com/2018/04/16/tony-fadell-apple-should-tackle-iphone-addiction/')
The world's worst boyband.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JilzVT Avatar
82 months ago
You can't honestly expect a company to design a way for people to use their product less.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jonnyb098 Avatar
82 months ago
Is this really an addiction problem or a self control problem? Maybe its a little of both. Since some apps and notifications have very much a "slot machine" effect on the brain. But a large part of this is personal responsibility. Its like asking Doritos to make their product taste worse so you don't want to eat as much.

EVERYTHING in life can become an addiction. Drugs, money, sex, weight lifting, gambling, video games, eating , etc etc etc. Which is why self control is important. Anything you enjoy releases dopamine in the brain therefore making it potentially addictive.

A healthy mental/physical lifestyle is all about balance.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)