Apple's new feature to fight iPhone addiction

Apple wants people to put their iPhones and iPads aside occasionally.

"We might not all realise how distracted we've become," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering,  at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose.

"We've thought deeply about this and today we are announcing a comprehensive set of built in features that help you."

Apple's new features, which come with the new mobile operating system iOS 12, include a Do Not Disturb During Bedtime feature which will deliberately not show your notifications at night if you open your phone. There's also a new way to control notifications including the ability to group them, and a new Screen Time setting which details device use and time spent in apps.

Activity Report lets people see how much they're using their devices, while App Limits is a feature which will let people set limits or allowances for app use. These tools are great for parents who can get messages to their own device letting them know what their kids are using and controlling their use.

The move follows global concern over tech addiction, particularly among young people. Google recently announced similar tools for Android devices.

But while Apple wants us to spend more time in the real world, it's also very keen for us to hang out with our friends in virtual worlds.

It's introduced new AR features which will allow multiple iPhone users to be able to view the same augmented reality scenes and objects in the same room. There's also another mode which allows for virtual objects to be placed in an area and remain in place.

Here's a quick overview of other interesting WWDC announcements.

iOS 12

Apple has had a difficult time with iOS 11 with a glut of glitches to frustrate fans. This latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, which will be released in September, focuses more on stability and sorting out bugs and less on dazzling us with its cleverness.

That said, there are some developments to get excited about - for example, a cross-platform apps feature between iOS and Mac OS. This will be available for developers to write third party apps for in 2019.

There is also a redesigned iBooks app, which has been renamed Apple Books, and CarPlay now supports third party navigation apps.

Siri upgraded

Siri is the world's most used digital assistant with over 10 billion requests processed each month and Apple has been working to improve it.

Shortcuts enables new possibilities for how people can use Siri. For example, if you say "Siri I lost my keys" and you have a tile on your keys, it can activate the ringer to let you know where they are. The Shortcuts app lets users design their own shortcuts and then connect them to actions. Shortcuts works on iPhone, iPad, HomePod and Apple Watch.

Meet Memoji

There's now tongue detection for Animojis, a few new faces such as a koala, tiger and trex and most importantly Memoji, which creates a more humanlike avatar of the user.

There is a new feature called Group FaceTime which allows up to 32 participants. FaceTime is also integrated into Messages so you can go from a group chat into a group FaceTime and you can apply the Animojis or Memojis too.

macOS 10.4

It's called MacOS Mojave. There's a new 'dark mode', a feature called 'desktop stacks' which lets you group desktop files by type, a whole host of new security features, and a completely redesigned Mac App Store which has that iOS feel.

The update will be available in September.

watchOS 5

The Apple Watch is all about lifestyle so it's no surprise new health and activity features have been added, including a fun new feature where you can do seven-day competitions with friends. For most though, the leading feature will be the new Walkie Talkie mode which lets Apple Watch wearers talk back and forth.

WatchOS 5 also adds native podcasts and if you lift your watch to speak to it, you no longer have to say "hey Siri".


Apple TV 4K is finally gaining support for Dolby Atmos.