Google developed its Digital Wellbeing suite to try and break what many are considering addictive behaviors in the use of mobile devices. Time limits and reminders all work to help Android users develop mindfulness habits, but most of those practices are often associated when you’re at home or at work, mostly while sitting down. There is, however, one kind of mindfulness that is even more critical, and the new “Heads Up” feature is designed precisely when you’re not sitting around while using your phone.
Unlike computers and TVs, smartphones haven’t kept people glued to their chairs or couches. Unfortunately, they have kept people glued to their screens all the time, sometimes even while walking. Although some incidents sound hilarious, the number of serious accidents involving “texting while walking” is too high to make light of.
Knowing that these people are unlikely to head common sense or even laws, Google has thought up of a way to at least call people’s attention when they’re using their phone while walking. Ironically, it works like a sort of distraction, distracting you from using your phone long enough to raise your head and focus on your surroundings.
Like Digital Wellbeing’s reminders to take breaks, Heads Up will regularly remind you to stop using your phone while walking. It uses data from both physical activity and location to determine that you’re walking to fire up those reminders. Google, however, also warns users that the feature doesn’t replace actually paying attention to your surroundings while walking.
Heads Up seems to currently be available only to Pixel owners using the beta version of Digital Wellbeing. It sounds more like a compromise rather than a solution and it might be a better strategy to block the use of all but essential smartphone apps while walking, pretty much like a walking version of Android Auto’s reduced interface.