Tech Guide

See how Apple's new iPhone software will help you spend less time staring at your phone

Key Points
  • iOS 12 coming this fall features a new Screen Time function that shows how long you use apps.
  • It also lets you limit how long you can use an app each day if you want to cut down on using specific apps too much.
  • This is a preview of the feature in Apple's developer preview of iOS 12.
All of the ways Apple is helping us put our phones down

Apple has a new feature coming to iPhones and iPads this fall called Screen Time. It shows you how long you spend inside each app and will give you more control over how long you're using specific apps.

It might be one way to help cut down on phone addiction.

Here's a first look at how Screen Time works in the developer beta of iOS 12.

Note that this version of the software is very early and exists only so app makers can get a sense of how it will interact with what they're doing. The final version won't come out until the fall. So these features could change.

Screen Time exists as a new option in Settings inside iOS 12

If you tap it you see this screen, which gives you more control over your apps

Downtime is for bedtime

Downtime will cut you off from apps you don't want to be tempted by during certain times of day. That might help prevent you from going down a rabbit hole browsing Facebook for two hours at bedtime. You can set when Downtime turns off, too. You're limited to phone calls, messages, and FaceTime by default.

App Limits

App Limits will let you limit how long you can use categories of apps like games, entertainment and social networking, for example. You can set it so that you only use an app category for a certain amount of time on certain days. I might set it so I only use social networking apps for an hour each day on the weekends, for example.

Always Allow

This section will let you choose apps that have no limits and are always allowed, even during "Downtime." If you always want to have access to Netflix — or maybe you always want WhatsApp, even in the middle of the night — you can add that here.

Content & Privacy

Content & Privacy will let you control how your device is used. It might be useful for parents who hand their iPhones off to children, for example. You can prevent people from downloading apps, deleting apps, making in-app purchases without a password and consuming certain kinds of music or videos (like music with explicit lyrics or R-rated movies). It also gives control over location-sharing and more.

Screen Time for Family

This will let you remotely control Screen Time on other devices, like iPads and iPhones, that are used by your family. You can prevent your children from using certain apps on their phones after a certain time, or set their privacy restrictions from your device.