‘Father of the iPod’ Tony Fadell suggests 3 features Apple could add to the iPhone to fight device addiction

source
Getty

  • The technologist Tony Fadell, who founded Nest and worked on the original iPod, is worried about device overuse.
  • In an editorial for Wired UK, he has suggested some features Apple could build into future iPhones to fight device addiction.
  • One of his ideas is an iPhone feature designed to let people set time targets for device use.

The former Nest CEO Tony Fadell was crucial in the development of the iPod and the iPhone at Apple over 10 years ago. So in many ways he’s directly responsible for the skyrocketing amount of time we’re spending on our devices, a trend some believe is causing device addiction.

In recent months, Fadell has become one of the loudest voices pushing Apple, Facebook, and other big tech companies to give users the tools to monitor and limit their screen time.

Now, in an op-ed article for Wired UK, he has outlined new features or modes that Apple could build into its phones. And if Apple does it, the rest of the industry is bound to follow. (For example: the notch.)

It’s got three parts. From Fadell’s piece:

  • “Our digital consumption data could look like a calendar with our historical activity. It should be itemised like a credit-card bill, so people can easily see how much time they spend each day on email, for example, or scrolling through posts. Imagine it’s like a health app which tracks metrics such as step count, heart rate and sleep quality.”
  • “With this usage information, people could then set their own targets – like they might have a goal for steps to walk each day.”
  • “Apple could also let users set their device to a ‘listen-only’ or ‘read-only’ mode, without having to crawl through a settings menu, so that you can enjoy reading an e-book without a constant buzz of notifications.”

Fadell discusses screen time using a nutritional analogy: “We need a ‘scale’ for our digital weight, like we have for our physical weight.”

Basically, in his view, that hour you spend scrolling through Instagram is like eating an entire bag of chips. “But when it comes to digital ‘nourishment’, we don’t know what a ‘vegetable’, a ‘protein’ or a ‘fat’ is,” he writes.

Because Apple makes money by selling devices – and has control over its platforms – it won’t be difficult to build these kind of tools, Fadell writes. In fact, it would be much easier that building a self-driving car, he observes.

Fadell is sure that the late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs would want to do something about device addiction. “He’d say: ‘Hey, we need to do something about it. We didn’t see this coming 11 years ago. Let’s make something happen,'” Fadell said in an interview earlier this year.