Google and Apple have each built tools into their mobile operating systems to help educate users about how much time they’re spending staring at their phones. Digital Wellbeing and Screen Time, respectively, each track time based on app category, allow you to set limits, and will even lock down apps or your entire device after you’ve hit a self-imposed limit.
The problem with either approach is that until you start to reach your time limit, it’s difficult to be conscious of your usage. OnePlus, however, is taking a new approach with an Android app that’s available for all users with a phone running Android 7 or newer.
Digital WellPaper — a play on words for digital wallpaper — tracks your device use, but instead of sending alerts when an app is about to be locked down, it places a wallpaper on your device’s home screen that changes color throughout the day based on your usage.
There are three different wallpapers, each one with a completely different look. As you use your phone throughout the day, the colors for a respective app category (Ex., Tools or Information and Business) will grow in presence. The more prominent the color is, the more time you’ve spent in that type of app.
You don’t have to dig through your phone’s settings or hunt down a widget, your daily stats are right there, on display, all day and night.
OnePlus is also launching a dedicated digital wellbeing website with the goal of educating users about the company’s overall approach to improving digital wellbeing.
According to OnePlus, Digital WellPaper won’t strain your phone’s battery as some live wallpapers can because it creates a static image every time you unlock your phone.
I had a chance to check out the app shortly before the announcement and it seems easy enough to use. I’ll probably install this on Android phones I’m testing just to see if it helps me realize when I’ve spent too much time on Twitter or Reddit instead of just putting my phone down.