Google’s Digital Wellbeing software might be slowing down Pixel phones

Google's digital wellness software aims to be a useful and transparent tool to control the habits of your smartphone and achieve a healthier balance between technology and life. But over the past two weeks, several pixel owners have come to the conclusion that it has the unwanted side effect of slowing down their device. There is a very active thread on Reddit at this time that includes many reports of improved performance when digital well-being is turned off. Some say that the difference of "night and day" is apparent almost immediately. Others seem less convinced that it is something so drastic. The theory was originally presented a little over a week ago by the user of Reddit Trueray17, who said he solved the performance problems with his Pixel 3.

The reduction of his phone is not supposed to be one of the features of Digital Wellbeing By design, it runs in the background and records how much time you are spending on applications and using a device in general. This data can be very valuable if you are trying to make better decisions and spend less time looking at a screen. You can set application timers or convert the screen to grayscale to make your business applications look less attractive at times when you have decided you want to avoid opening them impulsively.

But the idea that digital well-being could be preventing Pixel phones from being as fast as they could be is a bit alarming. If these user reports on speed and frame rate increases are accurate, this gives people a clear reason to turn off a resource that they might otherwise find tremendously useful.

Digital well-being was one of the main new features of Android 9 Pie, debuting first on Pixel phones before moving to Android One and a list (still quite small) of other devices. Google is set to expand on Android Q with a new Focus mode. Does it make sense that a background process like this can affect overall performance? It is certainly possible. The Verge approached Google to comment if it is aware of any slowdown caused by digital well-being.

Meanwhile, if you want to turn it off, even temporarily, to see if there are any notable improvements, here's how:

  • Go to your Pixel phone setup
  • Choose digital wellness [19659008] Touch the three-point icon in the upper right corner and choose "Disable use access"
  • Confirm that decision in the "Use access" screen by selecting Digital wellness and deactivating the "Allow use access" option.

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