Google’s annual developer conference, I/O 2018 starts today in San Francisco. Apart from introducing new features to its wide set of products, Google plans to address the ongoing debate over whether technology and the time spent on computing devices is harmful to people’s health. Google, with over 2 billion active mobile devices running its Android operating system, had dodged this question far too long.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have openly answered this question and Cook even went ahead to say that there is a need to look at how much time spent on its iDevice is harmful to users. According to Washington Post, Google will announce a new set of controls to its Android operating system aimed at helping individuals and families manage the time spent on mobile devices. According to those familiar with Google’s plans, CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to emphasize the theme of responsibility.
At I/O 2017 last year, Google went all in on Artificial Intelligence and showcased how the technology is baked into core services. At today’s developer event, Google might scale down a bit due to rising skepticism around the influence of AI and demand for more privacy controls in the wake of Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The criticism is mainly led by the fact that these consumer electronics devices have become addictive in nature overtime. In January, Apple shareholders asked the company to design products to combat phone addiction among children. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would children away from social network while its late CEO Steve Jobs is believed to placed strict restriction on his children’s screen time.
Facebook also accepted that passive consumption of News Feed could put people in a worse mood and is planning to address the same with future update. Amazon, which offers devices with custom version of Android, has built option to set time limit for devices and block access to unapproved apps since 2012. While Google and Facebook offer some form of parental controls on their devices, their investors have called them to do more to limit device addiction.
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Apart from this new control, Google is also expected to reveal the next developer preview of Android 8.0 Oreo and showcase new features including improvements to its core apps. There is expected to be a lot of emphasis on Google Assistant, the digital voice assistant from the search giant and new smart home features.