SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Apple will offer more ways for people to limit the time they spend on iPhones while introducing features designed to make its products even more indispensable.
The paradox emerged Monday as Apple executives previewed new versions of free software due out this fall.
The forthcoming controls are aimed at addressing criticism that devices are becoming increasingly addictive and distracting, especially for children during their formative years. Yet Apple made it clear it also hopes to make its devices and services even more alluring — and potentially irresistible — by creating new avenues for its digital assistant, Siri, to serve as a backup brain for its users. The company is also creating more entertainment options and new ways to communicate, including a way for up to 32 people to join a group video chat through FaceTime.
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People have become so dependent on technology that it's unlikely any company will be able to solve the addiction problem, but they can help keep it from getting worse, Gartner analyst Brian Blau said.
"Life itself can be addicting so what maybe the best we can hope for is for technology to help us enjoy it and then get out of the way, as much as possible," Blau said. "Apple at least seems to be hearing what people are saying and trying to do something about it."
Apple's new controls will expand on the iPhone's "Do Not Disturb" options. The phone's screen can also be set to dim automatically just before bedtime. Users can also block app notifications from showing up on the home screen not only based on time of day, which they can do now, but by location, such as when visiting the playground with their kids.
Other features will provide weekly reports on how much time people are spending looking at their screen each month. Users will be able to set daily time limits on specific apps.
Last month, Google revealed plans to force Android phones into "shush" mode when placed face down on a table and have the screen show only greyscale colors late at night. Both companies' efforts come as experts worry that all the flashy colors and beeps give users short-term, feel-good rewards while increasing stress in the long run.