Google’s Digital Wellbeing will remind distracted Android smartphone users to stay alert: ‘Heads Up’ feature randomly throws cautionary alarms

Heads Up Digital Wellbeing Google Android
Google will remind distracted Android smartphone users to look up. Pic credit: StockSnap/Pixabay

Google introduced Digital Wellbeing as a feature that supposedly improves an Android smartphone user’s health. Now the platform has received yet another feature called ‘Heads Up’ that sounds cautionary alarms to distracted mobile phone users.

Google has been developing and deploying a bunch of features for Android smartphone users’ health, safety, and wellness in check. These features are part of Digital Wellbeing. Now the search giant has added the ‘Heads Up’ feature to the growing list.

Digital Wellbeing gets a feature to remind distracted Android smartphone users to look up while walking:

Android’s Digital Wellbeing service is getting a new “Heads Up” feature. It will prompt users to stop staring at their phones while walking. The feature appears to be rolling out to the beta version of the Digital Wellbeing app.

The Heads Up setup page reads: “If you’re walking while using your phone, get a reminder to focus on what’s around you.” The reminders reportedly include brief notifications with instructions like “Watch your step,” “Stay alert,” and “Look up”.

“Use with caution. Heads Up doesn’t replace paying attention,” stresses Google. The search giant clearly developed the feature as a response to the rising instances of accidents due to distracted smartphone users.

There have been multiple reports of smartphone users walking into poles, stumbling on stairs, dunking themselves in water features, bumping into other people. The feature doesn’t seem to remind Android device users to behave courteously and let other people walk by.

How does the ‘Heads Up’ feature in Android Digital Wellbeing work:

It seems Google Pixel smartphone users should receive the Heads Up feature first. There’s however, no official word from Google yet.

The Heads Up feature requires permission to track a user’s physical activity in order to work. Users can also opt to give the feature access to their location in case they don’t want the ‘Heads Up’ feature to bother them when they are walking indoors.

After users have activated the feature, it will remind users to focus on what’s around them if they use their phone while walking. It is not clear exactly how the feature knows when to remind users to remain alert about their surroundings.

However, based on the permissions, it seems the feature randomly throws reminders. There’s no active spatial reconnaissance to detect potential obstacles.

Simply put, the ‘Heads Up’ feature doesn’t rely on any sensors to sense danger and send an alert accordingly. It, however, does need permission to track a user’s physical activity. Moreover, granting the feature location access seems unnecessarily excessive.

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