Apps

What I learned about myself using Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing Dashboard

Am I on my phone too much?

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When Android Pie was unveiled and released last week, I pretty much craved pie because everyone was talking about the delectable dessert. But, I was also very excited about one particular feature: The Digital Wellbeing Dashboard.

Image of me actually eating pie the day after the Android Pie unveiling

Announced earlier, this dashboard was supposed to be a ticket to a healthier lifestyle — well, at least in theory. In an effort to curb unhealthy phone user habits, a dashboard that tracks app usage is built in to Android’s newest operating system. Although not available to everyone as of writing, Pixel users (like yours truly) are able to try out the beta version of the dash. Since I’m a sucker for self-actualization and information that may potentially heal (and hurt) me, I tried it out for the last week or so and here’s what I learned.

I’m on my phone — a lot

No sh*t, Sherlock.

I know I’m always looking at these tiny screens but I didn’t realize I was literally living my life in front of it. A record day saw me looking at the screen for — get this — 11 hours and 55 minutes. That’s half a day! Legitimately, that’s the whole time I’m not sleeping. And take note, I review phones so this isn’t the only screen I look at in a day.

Given these numbers, I’m honestly unsure how I get anything else done in my life.

I get a ton of notifications

I mean sure, technology connects people, but I didn’t realize just how connected we are.

According to my data, I get around a minimum of 250 notifications per day and this number varies. At some point, there was a whopping 620 notifications. Let’s think about that for a minute; that means around 51 messages per hour in a 12-hour day. There are only 60 minutes per hour so that means almost a message for each freaking minute.

On average, Facebook Messenger tops the list for these notifications followed by Gmail and Telegram.

I check Instagram more than I should

Now, this is funny because as you just saw, Instagram isn’t on that list of top app notifiers. But, this might also be because I turned off IG notifications because they were distracting me (yay for being self-aware?). This health dashboard tells me that I unlocked my Instagram app most, with as many as 153 times in one day. This was, on average, followed by Facebook and Twitter.

The top three apps I spent time on are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, which just tells me that I’m ‘gram crazy and I’m on social media too much (which isn’t really news to anyone).

Grayscale is annoying and I hate it

Part of the dashboard is a feature aimed at curbing being on your phone before bed (which I do a lot 🙄). Wind Down allows you to set such times and then gives you an option to turn on Do Not Disturb and a Grayscale that makes browsing less desirable for people who should be sleeping and not looking at their phones.

The mess of an app IG becomes on grayscale

Reading tweets on grayscale is weird and browsing through Instagram is just plain wrong. I guess, in that way, this function is effective in getting me to stop being on my phone — until I turned it off the next day and never turned it on again.

I refuse to turn on the app timer as I justify social media use as work

Say what you want because it’s true. 😅

See, there’s a timer option on the dash that allows you to limit app usage time. Thing is, I’ve never turned it on. Why? Because I work on the internet and turning it on may amount to catastrophic consequences.

I will keep using this to justify my action of disallowing app time limits, so what’s your excuse?

It must be noted that, as mentioned earlier, I use more than one phone on a daily basis and am on social media on my laptop a lot, too. That being said, it’s worth pointing out that this still isn’t a complete picture of my daily phone and internet habits. Even though this data only shows a fraction of the grand picture, it already says a lot.

As with everything in life, the choice is in your hands (er, on your phone). Though I am ultimately left to decide what to do about my phone habits, knowing is always the first step.

Apps

Google’s Emoji Kitchen will mash-up your favorite emojis

Rolling out on Gboard

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Do you know that Merriam-Webster adds new words to the dictionary every year? Do you also know that the Unicode Consortium adds new emojis to everyone’s devices every year? Such is the way of language. New ways to communicate will always emerge out of nowhere. Usually, they form whenever two things combine into an all-new form. It’s easy enough to combine words together, but how do you do that with emojis?

Google is developing a way to fuse emojis into new ones. In an official blog post, the Android developer announced the new feature called Emoji Kitchen. A feature of Gboard, Emoji Kitchen unlocks a plethora of new emojis. How about a cowboy ghost? Or a crying robot? Or a kissing poop face?

Prior to the Emoji Kitchen, users already received access to emoji variants in the past. Today, you can select different skin tones for human emojis. With the Emoji Kitchen, you can mix existing ones with each other. Likewise, users can access the feature automatically by opening compatible emojis. Opening the cowboy emoji sub-menu, for example, will open up its different variants.

Naturally, Emoji Kitchen will combine only existing emojis. In other words, you can’t create an all-new emoji from nothing. All new emojis come from Google’s own designers. Still, the feature’s new combinations will come in handy. Especially when I feel like a… monkey cactus?

Emoji Kitchen is slowly rolling out to Gboard users starting today. If you don’t want to wait for an official version, you can sign up for the Gboard Beta program for instant access.

SEE ALSO: Emoji documentary to show at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival

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Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo joins Huawei’s effort to build a Play Store alternative

Preparing for a Google-less future

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Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo recently collaborated with Huawei to build the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA). GDSA aims to create a single app store aimed at simplifying app uploads and downloads for developers and consumers.

At first glance, GDSA seems like a competitor for Google’s Play Store. Over the years, the rising hostility of the US towards Chinese tech companies led to tariffs and outright ban from using its technologies. For example, Huawei suffered an entity ban last 2018 due to suspicions of spying for the Chinese government.

Such precedence may have stoked fear among other Chinese companies that a ban could be leveraged by the US in the future. Dependence on Western technologies is crucial for these companies. As such, a ban would represent a great loss, considering that most of these companies have established markets in many countries.

To counter this scenario, these tech companies are slowly building their own alternatives to established apps and services. Huawei, for its part, had already pushed out AppGallery as an alternative to Google’s Play Store. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have their own app stores in China due to a continuing ban on Google’s services in the country.

A unified app store

A unified app store will greatly simplify the process for developers who have to deal with these multiple app stores. GDSA will unify the backend of these app stores so developers can publish once and have their apps appear on the brands’ respective app stores.

For now, details about GDSA are scarce. Pilot countries for its deployment include 9 key regions including India, Russia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A prototype website has been set up, but developers cannot sign up for it yet.

But if GDSA really pushes through, Google will face some serious competition on Android app distribution. Furthermore, the issue of fragmentation will only deepen in the ecosystem as companies build their own version of Google apps.

Xiaomi’s statement

Xiaomi already responded with a statement stating that they have no plans to position GDSA as a Play Store competitor. The company reiterated GDSA’s function to simplify the app uploading process. Furthermore, there was no mention of Huawei in their statement.

Huawei and Google have yet to release a statement. However, it is clear that Google will not welcome this development. Considering that Google has an iron grip on app store distribution outside China, a viable competitor will only compel the American company to further control the Android ecosystem.

With a tightening grip on Android, other tech companies will only intensify their efforts to build an alternative OS. Huawei, as an example, launched HarmonyOS for its devices in the future.

An alternative app store will also open up another potential avenue for hackers targeting users with malware. This will only contribute to security and privacy problems in Android, which has long been dealing with notorious malware and data breaches.

Source: Reuters

 

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Grab Philippines ordered to suspend in-car recording and selfie verification

Due to violations in the Data Privacy Act of 2012

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Last year, Grab Philippines tested new features to ensure passenger and driver safety. These new features are in-car audio and video recording, as well as selfie verification.

However, the country’s National Privacy Commission (NPC) ordered Grab to halt the rollout of these features. The commission stated that those features pose a privacy risk to passengers. A cease and desist order released by NPC cites violations within the Data Privacy Act of 2012, which governs the privacy and security of all digital data on the country.

NPC also stated in its Notice of Deficiencies that the ride-sharing company failed to assess the new features’ risk to passengers, taking only into account “the risk faced by the company”.

The notice also noted that there is no clear mechanism for informing passengers when recorded data gets sent to authorities. It also found out that there is ambiguity in opting out of recording.

As such, NPC gave Grab 15 days to address the deficiencies it found for both in-car recording and selfie verification. This is surely a welcome move for ensuring passengers’ privacy. However, the question remains on what measures Grab will implement in the future to protect its passengers’ safety.

Source: Top Gear Philippines

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