The various Digital Wellbeing features that Google revealed last spring — a dashboard to show your smartphone usage habits, app limit timers, and a “wind down” mode to help you focus on going to sleep — are not included in today’s release of Android 9 Pie. But if you have a Pixel device and you’ve already installed the latest OS update on it, you’ll be able to try out those software tools ahead of their official launch sometime this fall. The beta starts right now.
Google says that trying out these Digital Wellbeing features does not require joining the Android beta program; you can continue running a stable version of Android 9 Pie while testing the Dashboard, app timers, and wind down. So that’s pretty great.
To get started, follow these steps:
- Install the Android 9 Pie update when it’s available this afternoon
- Go to Google’s Digital Wellbeing Beta website
- Enter your email address and select “yes” on the “Do you have Android Pie on your Pixel?” question
- Soon after, you’ll get an email with an invite to begin testing digital wellness. Click the link in this email to accept the invite and begin testing.
- Within 24 hours of joining the beta, you’ll see digital wellness appear in your Android settings menu. There’s nothing to download, install, or update. Google is really making it sound like this just shows up.
Note that Digital Wellbeing is in beta until the fall, so you might run into some bugs and encounter some snags every now and then. According to Google, these software tools were designed with the goal of “giving you a complete picture of your digital habits and helping you disconnect when you want to.”
Apple is also integrating similar features into its upcoming iOS 12 update, and social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram are also working on adding new sections to their apps that transparently show how much time we all spend using them. 2018 is certainly the year of technology self-reflection. But ultimately, these companies are just giving you the data; it’ll be up to you to make changes and adjust your device usage if you’re alarmed by what you see.
Digital Wellbeing will launch first on the Pixel lineup this fall before expanding to Android One and other devices “later this year.”