Bleats

It Took Just Three Days For Apple’s Screen Time Monitoring Feature To Make Me Hate Myself

Enter your personal iPanopticon and be reborn.

102. That’s the number of times I picked up my phone last Thursday, according to Apple’s new iPhone setting that tracks all your darkest digital habits, called Screen Time.

I already know I use my phone a lot. I’m a tech journalist – I can always stake a claim to it being part of the job. But I also know I’m not solving the world’s social algorithm crises while staring at that screen in the palm of my hand. It’s mostly time spent reading random crap and watching cute animal videos.

Some of you might think it’s not that big a number. That’s only… seven times an hour! Just once every eight and a half minutes! Pfffttt. I can do that by lunchtime!

Sure, maybe you like the idea of setting a new personal best as often as possible. For me, just two days after starting to use Screen Time, I decided cracking the century was a good line in the sand to try to avoid hitting again in future.

Screen Time has some helpful tools beyond just rubbing horror stats in your face when you peer into its iPanopticon. You can set limits for categories of apps you want to cut down on using, and you can set downtime to cut yourself off between certain hours of the day.

The Apple take on setting limits is very liberal. A pleasant hourglass icon takes over your screen and tells you you’ve hit your limit for the day, but a simple tap on an ‘Ignore limit’ button lets you choose whether to continue for 15 minutes or to just give up and ignore warnings for the rest of the day.

The thing is, this isn’t about punishing yourself in an annoying way. It’s about building personal guilt. The old “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed” routine.

If it was a hard cutoff (like a similar option found on Android phones) I’d be less likely to use it in the first place. Don’t make it too fussy, just make me check myself before I digitally wreck myself.

A few days later, the stats now show I’m closing in on a full 24 hours of staring at my phone’s screen since Screen Time started monitoring less than a week ago. Over 11 hours of that time? Social media apps.

But the tide is turning! I’m working on deleting the standing-at-the-pedestrian-crossing phone fidget response from my repertoire. I’m trying to make myself have a reason to get out my phone, not just out of habit. And to remember what it’s like to not mainline news and information feeds at every possible moment my eyes happen to be open.

I’ve also turned off umpteen app notifications to reduce that fidget factor of pulling out the screen in the first place. Screen Time actually shows you a ranked list of what’s sending the most notifications and gives quick access to the settings that can turn them off.

And, very kindly, Screen Time is already offering me some positive feedback. Apparently I’m “down 48% from last week”, however that is measured.

But I’ll take every victory I can get. Chin up. Shoulders back. Screen in the pocket a little more often.

The New iPhone Will Cost All Your Money But At Least It Has A Cool Porn Star Name Going For It

How are we meant to look at the name "XS Max" without thinking about something dirty or INXS?

It’s new iPhone day, everyone, and that means shiny new toys for Apple fans and new things to poke fun at for the haters.

Top of the sticking points this year? How are we meant to say ‘XS Max’ without thinking the new iPhone has a porn name.

It was tricky enough when Apple wanted us to call the iPhone X the ‘iPhone 10’, but with today’s arrival of the iPhone XS, Apple adamantly proclaims it’s the ‘10S’ and definitely not the ‘excess’.

In fact, there’s three new models. The XS, the bigger XS Max, and the cheaper XR. Remember, you’re meant to read the X as a 10 but the S and the R like they’re part of the normal everyday alphabet. Which kind of means you can say ‘Tennis’ and ‘Tenner’?

So what’s new? It’s the ’S’ year, which means the surface layer is just like last year and the upgrades are mostly under the hood. So it’s all about being faster, smarter, smoother.

And sexier, like the saucy minx you know XS Max must be.

While the XS is the same size as last year’s X, the XS Max takes us up to a 6.5-inch screen (but still smaller than the older big iPhones).

For regular overseas travellers, the new iPhones also have dual SIM support, so you can split your phone between your home phone plan and an overseas plan to keep call and data costs down.

It’s all watched up to 11 – sorry, to 10S – but that also means the price, which sees the fanciest models smash through the wallet crushing $2,000 mark for the first time.

The Aussie dollar is part of the problem this year, too, down about 10% compared to September last year, so the conversions really don’t work in our favour at all.

Want the cheapest possible X model? The iPhone XR with 64GB storage will set you back $1,229. Want all the bells, whistles and Max Power of a 512GB iPhone XS Max? That’ll be $2,369.

Strap yourself in and feel the Gs (leaving your bank account).

The XR does seem like the ‘sweet spot’ of all the shiny fancy full-screen-with-a-notch iPhone models. It comes in some snazzy looking new colours too.

The biggest news of the event was in the Apple Watch section of the show. While many have argued these watches aren’t all that, the stats now indicate Apple Watch has become the number one watch in the world. Not smartwatch. Any watch. Apple’s watch business alone now makes more money than Rolex.

The new watches are a little bigger, but also thinner, and can fit a few more data points on the watch face so you can get more useful info at a glance.

But the killer feature is in health tracking, with the new Series 4 Apple Watch adding fall detection as a big help for the elderly or just plain clumsy, and an amazing new ECG reader built into the watch crown. The heart rate monitor can also now flag if your heart rate is too high, too low, or busting out some arhythmic beats that might require medical attention.

This stuff is huge for people at risk and in need of constant medical data tracking without the need for obtrusive devices strapped all over the place.

The new Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $599 which sounds like pocket change compared to the phones.

And with that, we also say a sad farewell forever to iPhones with headphone jacks. The old iPhone 6S now leaves the store, the last model before it disappeared.

So what happens next? Fans get excited and place their orders (starting Friday), haters point, laugh and call out the sheeple for being so bold as to spent their money on things they like to spend money on. Apple will make record profits yet again and analysts will argue this is the last time that happens for sure.

Then we do it all again in 2019.

With the iPhone XI? X2? XX? Place your bets now.

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