Why Apple launched this “anti-iPhone” feature

A quick question: What is your posture when playing with your mobile phone?

When fishing in the office, keep your head down and scroll through Weibo to avoid being discovered? Turn off the lights before going to bed and curl up in bed to watch videos, and the dark circles under your eyes are illuminated by the light from the screen? Or lean on the boss's chair and raise your arms slightly?

Ever since I turned on Apple's "Screen Distance" function, I found that I couldn't hold my phone anymore.

iPhone, which cares more about eyes than users, please stop being "annoying"

The recommended distance between your iPhone or iPad and your eyes is 30 cm.

Open "Screen Time" in "Settings", you can find and turn on "Screen Distance", and then it will act like a disciplinary committee to observe whether you follow the rules.

When I read comments about "screen distance" on Xiaohongshu, I felt like I had found a like-minded person.

Regardless of whether the phone is held horizontally or vertically, the "screen distance" reminder comes unexpectedly and suddenly takes up the entire screen, forcing me to put the phone outside the warning line.

This distance is good for the eyes, but not good for other parts of the body. I straightened my arms and raised them unconsciously at the same time. The posture was more like taking a selfie. In public places such as the subway, it may be misunderstood that I have presbyopia at a young age.

▲ Schematic diagram.

What's more sad than sadness is that my usual posture for playing mobile phones has been affected. Not only does it hurt my hands, but it's also not friendly to myopia. I can't read from 20 centimeters away, let alone play while lying down. I'm afraid of sitting at my workstation. Others don't know that I'm fishing.

The "screen distance" reminder is automatic, but stopping it is manual. When the distance is reached, the "continue" button lights up and you can continue to play happily by pressing it.

The "Screen Distance" function was turned on for only an hour, and I was told by the iPhone more than 20 times.

Not only that, when the reminder takes up the full screen, although nothing can be done, the functions that should be performed are still being performed, such as continuing to play the video.

Netizens also had similar experiences – they were interrupted while playing Honor of Kings and were sent back to the city when they came back. When sending voice messages on WeChat, a reminder popped up to send out unfinished words.

Thinking about it on the other hand, my usual habit of using mobile phones is so unhealthy that I almost got into the screen. The distance between the screen and the screen gave me a deep understanding of my past dissolute behavior.

If you have turned on "Screen Distance" but you are not reminded when you bring your phone to your face, you may need to check whether your phone supports Face ID and iOS 17. Otherwise, your habit of using your phone is too healthy and needs to be rethought. There is someone else.

However, an eye expert interviewed by Business Insider warned that "screen distance" is better than nothing, but it may just simplify the problem and bring a false sense of security.

It's more important to limit screen time and enjoy the outdoors and natural light. If you stare at your phone for hours, whether it's 5cm or 45cm away from your face, your eyes will get tired.

Can we not know this truth? But when I was playing on my phone, I forgot about everything.

In Xiaohongshu’s posts about “Screen Distance”, some praised this as a treasured feature, and Apple is really serious about it.

But the more popular content I read taught others how to turn off this function. The comment area was filled with a peaceful and friendly atmosphere – "Thank you, my great benefactor, for giving me the freedom to lie down and play on my phone." .

Playing with mobile phones in a healthier way may be a contradictory wish

In fact, "screen distance" is not a new feature. It was launched in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 in September 2023, joining the "screen time" family.

"Screen usage time" can be traced back to WWDC in 2018. It was launched on iOS 12 in September of that year. It allows every Internet-addicted boy and girl to have no hiding place. It lists the overall screen usage time, in certain categories and for each app. The time spent, the number of times you pick up your phone, the number of notifications you receive…

If the numbers are appalling, you can remedy the situation through the "Usage Restrictions" function, including "Deactivation Time" to set time away from the screen, "App Limits" to set time limits for apps, and "Always Allow" to whitelist a few necessary apps… …

In the "Family Sharing" mode, "Screen Time" is very suitable for managing children aged 13 and under, but mature adults manage themselves, which leads to a moral and hedonic dilemma.

When the time limit is reached for the first time, you can directly choose to use it for a period of time. Even if the time limit is reached again, you can still extend the time or even use it throughout the day by entering the screen usage time password.

Even Cook found that he was using his phone too much after having "screen time" – "I thought I was pretty disciplined. I was wrong… When I started getting data, I found that it took more time than it should." Much more." He made a small change: turning off the app notifications.

I have the same idea as Cook, but my solution is that I still don’t want to see the screen time report. Numbers that only increase anxiety are better out of sight than out of sight.

Yet why would a tech company tell users to use their devices less during one of the most important events of the year?

Cook once said in an interview that Apple has never considered "use" as a key parameter, and it does not want people to spend a lot of time on the device. It hopes that users will be satisfied with the device and be empowered by the device.

Using a mobile phone for a long time is not Apple's business model.

Even if I’m just talking cliches to the media, compared with other technology giants such as Google and Meta, Apple’s revenue relies more on hardware and services rather than advertising and user tracking. The time users spend on their devices is indeed not that important.

It is also because of this that Apple can also use "privacy protection" as a selling point. In April 2021, Apple began to implement a new privacy setting – "Application Tracking Transparency" (ATT). Applications must obtain permission before tracking user behavior and providing personalized ads. In November of that year, Facebook and four other companies lost about $9.85 billion in revenue.

In an age where smartphone addiction has become a cliché, digital health and personal privacy are symbiotic retro topics that seem old and boring.

Before convenience, efficiency, and entertainment, they all seem to be regarded as "sacrifice" for granted. There is no need to go online, and there is no need to talk useless nonsense from the moral high ground.

But in fact, the protection of personal privacy and digital health can also be embodied, perceived by originally indifferent users, and even implicitly packaged as the soft competitiveness of products and the added value of the operating system.

However, users are often the ones who passively accept the results. Technology giants are inevitably suspected of being both referees and players, using their spears to attack their shields, giving people the illusion that "the way to salvation lies within" – they are worried about being addicted to it. smart phone? Do you want to establish a healthy relationship with your dog? Want to manage your time better? Then your smartphone can help you too!

Everyone knows that the most effective way to protect your eyes is to play with your mobile phone less. Don't lie down and play with your mobile phone in the dark. Don't put your face against your mobile phone. It's best to pause and rest after playing for 20 minutes.

In addition to simply putting down your phone and becoming a Buddha, you can also use your phone to set reminders for using your phone more healthily. "Screen distance" encourages you, and Pomodoro apps encourage you.

However, humans who are inseparable from their mobile phones still want to delve into some "side tricks", such as reducing the irritation of the screen to the eyes, appropriately adjusting the brightness, lowering the white point value, and turning on the night mode, but this can only solve the temporary difficulties. The screen is still the same screen, and it cannot replace the ultimate method of playing with mobile phones.

Even if it is to achieve the goal of playing less with mobile phones, we prefer to start with mobile phones instead of looking for our own problems. Like my colleague Editor Liu, he previously turned on the grayscale function of the iPhone color filter and changed the screen to black, white and gray.

Of course, this is not an "ink screen". The total amount of light has not been reduced and it is still harmful to the eyes. It has only eliminated the colors and reduced the worldly desire to use mobile phones. However, it didn't take long for him to switch back to color because it felt bad to not be able to see the picture clearly.

In June last year, Apple wrote in an official press release that the "screen distance" is to relieve visual fatigue and reduce the risk of myopia in children. "Our goal is to enable people to control their own health journey."

But if we can’t control our damn hands, how can we keep distance from the screen?

Staying away from the screen has become a performance art of self-deception to some extent. It doesn’t matter if the hand has many functions, it does. Do you rely on self-awareness? Yes. Those who have strong self-discipline don't need it at all, and those who can't control themselves can't easily turn around.

“Anti-iPhone” interaction maintains the bottom line of digital life

After launching the "Screen Time feature", Cook said that the device itself is not addictive, but what you do on it is addictive.

This statement sounds quite technology-neutral, but both smartphones and interactive technologies should bear the responsibility. In 2007, the iPhone's full touch-screen interface changed mobile phone interaction. In 2006, "infinite scrolling" designed for web pages replaced "click left and right to turn pages." When this logic was applied to short videos, it became even more out of control.

The book "Hooked" analyzes why Internet products are addictive. Simply put, the product needs to solve the user's problem in some way, scratch the user's itch, and use four steps – trigger, action, reward and investment – to hook the user.

For example, we are triggered by a certain notification and take the action of checking social media to gain spiritual satisfaction. Then the more and longer we use it, the more likely it is to form a habit. There are too many such products on mobile phones, which themselves are a large "Hook" center.

However, in addition to the "evil" smartphones and the self-punishing "screen time" of three cups, Apple also provides a lot of "anti-interaction" products and services to make users willing to pay for its ecosystem. This is its business part of the pattern.

Jony Ive, Apple's former chief design officer, also talked about the problem of smartphone screen addiction, and then he hinted that another Apple product could be the solution – the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch, launched in 2014, has continued to mature through exploration. Back to the starting point, a 2015 report in Wired magazine revealed that the internals had been swaying for a long time about the reason for the existence of Apple Watch, and finally they found the answer: your phone is ruining your life.

They hope that the watch will not be as "intrusive" as a mobile phone, and will not and cannot keep people immersed in it for hours, filtering out all the nonsense and providing only the truly important information.

Now that Apple Watch has more functions, this starting point is still retained, faintly competing with smartphones.

My colleague Editor Fang bought an Apple Watch that supports cellular networks because he hopes that the watch can be used independently from his mobile phone. The watch can handle "light scenarios" such as exercising, shopping, taking public transportation, and receiving SMS verification codes.

Although Apple Watch can also use WeChat, it is slow to receive messages, so Editor Fang basically does not open WeChat on the watch. He only uses text messages and phone calls to maintain the most necessary contacts, temporarily achieving a "hard separation" between work and life, and saying goodbye to new messages. The trouble of the main interface popping up constantly.

Even the Apple Watch can be used in emergencies. Once, Editor Fang accidentally left his phone on Didi, called a friend for help through Apple Watch, then communicated with Didi customer service, and finally contacted the driver to get the phone back.

Wearing only a watch without a mobile phone can satisfy a very basic social life… Apple Watch can also be a non-smartphone, which has become my new bottom line in social life.

I also appreciate the "not overly intrusive" nature of Apple Watch. Apple Watch messages vibrate gently on my wrist, reminding me to stand up after sitting for a long time, or to record my mood for the day, and I can do so, but I can just as well ignore them and get on with what I'm doing.

In October last year, the "double-tap each other with two fingers" function launched by the two new Apple Watches is also a convenient and "non-disturbing" interaction method.

With the hand wearing the watch, the user can control the screen from a distance, switch songs, answer and hang up calls, check messages, dictate replies, etc. without touching the display. Double tap is useful when our other hand is occupied, walking the dog, cooking, or holding a cup of coffee.

The opposite of digital addiction is not to completely abandon convenience, but to make better use of time, not to be alienated by products and tools, and not to block the interaction between people and the world.

Similarly, in September last year, with the update of iOS 17, Airpods Pro 2 added an "adaptive" noise reduction mode and a "conversation awareness" function. The former is between the "transparency" and "noise reduction" modes. Achieve a balance between "noise" and "silence". The latter means that once you speak, the headphone volume and noise reduction effect automatically weaken, and return to normal after the conversation is over.

The emergence of these two functions actually means that the earphones can better match the environment and automatically adjust – we do not need to take off the earphones from time to time. We can immerse ourselves in our own world, reduce noise, and at the same time be able to hear the necessary sounds around us. information and communicate with others.

There is also an interesting phenomenon in the current AIGC craze – a lot of AI hardware is under the guise of replacing smartphones, preventing you from becoming addicted, and preventing you from ignoring the real world.

In particular, the AI ​​hardware AI Pin launched by two former Apple executives in November 2023 eliminates the mobile phone screen and projects information on the palm of the hand. It also changes our relationship with information from "pushed" to "extracted". Users Putting demands on the device amplifies the initiative in interaction.

Part of the reason why AI Pin was born was to "atone" for the iPhone addiction problem. The founder's one-year-old child could also imitate the "swipe" gesture, which made them panic.

Issues such as information overload, mobile phone addiction, and digital health have been discussed too much, but modern people cannot stop eating because of choking and still devote themselves to a certain device and ecology, supplemented by elegant intermediate options and exit mechanisms.

From the "anti-intelligence" functions in smartphones to some devices that replace smartphones but are more concerned with life, it may be precisely because of the explosion of technology and information that we need more "three chapters" to maintain a calm bottom line in life—— Stay 30 centimeters away from the screen, turn off unnecessary notifications, and take a break from playing with your phone for 20 minutes…

For a smart device, of course we want to know its performance and design, as well as whether it has any trendy functions and cool interactions. However, in the end, its value may be more reflected in the impact it has on us every day we spend together, and whether we can use it to our fullest and get out of it calmly.

It is as sharp as autumn frost and can ward off evil disasters. Work email: [email protected]

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