Apple

Apple Engineers Work On ‘Digital Health’ Tools For iOS 12

Apple

To help users monitor how much time they are spending on their Apple devices and within certain apps, engineers at the tech company have been working on a series of tools through a Digital Health initiative. According to people familiar with Apple’s plans, the features will be bundled into a menu in Apple’s iOS 12, Bloomberg reported.

Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive, told Bloomberg, “We need to have tools and data to allow us to understand how we consume digital media. We need to get finer-grain language and start to understand that an iPhone is just a refrigerator, it’s not the addiction.”

Those concerns have been echoed by two investors in Apple: California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and JANA Partners LLC. Both investors have brought up concerns over the addictive nature of the company’s technology. In response, Apple said it would bring about more comprehensive parental controls.

The news comes as Apple gears up for its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which could bring big upgrades for both Siri and the HomePod. Gene Munster, managing partner at the venture capital firm Loup Ventures, thinks that Siri could get some upgrades that will help it begin to cover the ground it lost to its competitors. And ground, Munster concedes, it has lost.

Though the buzz is building up in advance of WWDC, the skepticism around Apple’s latest and greatest offerings still remain. The pre-chatter seems to all be asking some variation of the question Slate asked on the subject: “Hey Siri, can you learn to do some more stuff?”

Whether it will remains to be seen — Apple historically fancies keeping its garden well walled — but the demand for more third-party integration has become loud and continuous in the HomePod’s time on the market. And it appears that if Apple really wants to try to recapture ground from Amazon and Google, it is going to have to learn to play ball with others somewhat better than it is currently. Apple may like walled gardens, but consumers don’t.

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