Google’s latest version of Android, Android 9 Pie, has a host of digital wellbeing tools designed to help users find and engage in the “joy of missing out”, or JOMO. While our constantly connected culture is fueled by the fear of missing out, FOMO, Google seeks to allow users to disconnect without stressing over missing anything urgent or important. Many of the digital wellbeing tools in Pie are designed to help users to be mindful about their usage, figure out how to make their phone work for them, and limit notifications and other urgent functions to only the things that are really urgent.
To get data on how people use their phones and what causes both FOMO and JOMO, Google sought international participants over a period of two years to contribute data on smartphone usage, stress levels, vacation time, and other relevant data. Participants were pulled from the United States, Switzerland and a host of other countries. The overwhelming conclusion was that people hated to disconnect, and felt obligated to always be available to everybody. Google found that some of the best ways to pursue the concept of JOMO were to help people to be more mindful of their usage and find patterns of unnecessary or excessive use, help reduce unnecessary re-engagement through efforts like notification control and Android Pie’s App Timer feature, and to give people options to control what types of interactions can intrude on their time in an immediate fashion, allowing them the option to “partially disconnect”.
Digital Wellbeing tools in Android Pie are far from Google’s first efforts in the realm of helping people escape their phones. Smartphone addiction and FOMO-based behaviors are commonly cited as a major problem in modern society, and Google, being at the forefront of the mobile revolution, is working toward helping consumers regain control. Accordingly, the company indicates that this research and its results are only its earliest efforts, and there will be more work in this area on an ongoing basis. Presumably, future efforts will continue to add refinements and new features to Google’s products, including Android, with the aim of helping consumers limit behaviors that distract from everyday life.
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