Apple’s Screen Time Report Is Not Accurate for Tracking Your Habits

iOS 12 is out and a lot of people suddenly realize they are spending too much time with their smartphones. Way. Too much. Lot. Time. This is all thanks to the Screen Time feature, which you will find in your device’s Settings menu, right under the Do Not Disturb section. Tap it and your iPhone or iPad will present you with all sorts of scary information: how many hours you spent glued on it, what you did, and even how much you picked it up (down to the hour).

But here’s the problem. Apple Screen Time is incomplete. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, and therefore it is an inconsistent and imprecise way to truly understand your device addiction habits.



I’ve seen tweets and forum posts asking everyone the same question: How do I exclude apps from counting screen time? (Several friends asked me this too, admitting that their total screen time was much higher than they expected.)

The short answer is that there is currently no way to prevent screen time tracking for an individual application. And this is a big mistake on the part of Apple. As the tweet says – and this is what I just checked – Apple’s tool counts everything that happens when your device’s screen is on.

You can use Spotify or Apple Music as long as you want when the screen is off, without increasing your working time. However, drive with the map app turned on and Apple will count your random views of your directions as screen time. If you have to spend an hour working back and forth every day, that’s ten extra hours of screen time on your meter: usually classified as “Reading and Help”, which is useless in and of itself.

I understand, I understand. Apple Screen Time is designed to do exactly what its name suggests: provide a record of everything you do when the screen is on, provided that you have to interact with your iPhone or iPad in some way. The function works great, just too great.

Instead, Apple should provide users with the option to either reclassify apps as something else – like Navigation or Other, or let them create a short list of apps that are automatically excluded from the clock.

While you can cheat and put Fortnite on this list, the only person you really hurt is yourself. And I bet more people would like to get an accurate idea of ​​the time they spend on their devices in a meaningful way, rather than a quick trick to avoid detection with a utility that they don’t even need to turn on in the first place. …

How to make Screen Time work for you

There is no indication that Apple is going to release a fix for this issue. (It seems like anyone could catch this by going to Cupertino.) You have several solutions to solve this problem yourself, but they are not perfect.

First, if you really want to get as accurate a report of your screen time as possible, consider turning off your device’s screen and using your mapping app’s sound notifications instead. I don’t think this kind of compromise is worth it, but it’s an option.

Second, you can use a CarPlay compatible receiver. If your car doesn’t have one and you don’t want to buy an additional device, you’re out of luck. However, today I was able to confirm that viewing Google Maps on my CarPlay receiver – with the screen off of the connected iPhone – was not counted by the Screen Time feature. (It was the same with my podcast app, Castro.)

If you’re in a different situation where your screen time counter is horribly wrong – for example, if you’re testing the UI of a prototype of your app on your iPhone – you’ll have to agree that what your device says about device dependency isn’t right. reality. going to reflect how you actually use it. Do not worry. Take Screen Time as It Is: A useful way to keep track of some activity in an application, but only if you use this tool to get a sense of what you are doing. Don’t let the large total confuse you.

And if your kid is complaining because he is stepping outside of your screen time when driving to get things done and now he can’t Snapchat his friends, well … life is cruel, isn’t it? Maybe they can write a letter to Tim Cook now that they’ve used up their entire iPhone for the day.


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