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Now your smartphone can tell you off for texting while walking

Google is adding a feature called Heads Up to its Android Digital Wellbeing system

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We have all been guilty, at least occasionally, of staring at our phones while walking, not paying attention to our surroundings and walking into someone or something.

Now Google wants to help, with a feature rolling out to Android smartphones called Heads Up. A part of the company's Digital Wellbeing system (and definitely not a late April Fool's joke), Heads Up was spotted over the weekend by a Twitter user.

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Added to their Pixel 4a phone as part of the latest beta of Digital Wellbeing, Jay Kamat tweeted about the feature on April 11. Screenshots of the system include the message: "Watch your step with Heads Up. If you're walking while using your phone, get a reminder to focus on what's around you."

The Google software then states the obvious with: "Use with caution. Heads Up doesn't replace paying attention."

Digital Wellbeing is an Android application from Google containing a range of features designed to improve your relationship with your smartphone. These include a feature that turns the screen to grayscale and silences notifications in the run-up to your daily bedtime.

Another enabled the Do Not Disturb mode when your phone is turned over, and there is a system for monitoring how much time you spend on each application, with the option to impose limits if you are concerned about addiction.

It makes sense for the new Head Up feature to be included in Digital Wellbeing, but we wonder just how many people genuinely need reminding to look up from the screen and pay attention to their surroundings. The feature can be set to work only when you are moving and only when outside, in a bid to prevent people from walking into traffic and other dangers while distracted

Evidence of the feature was spotted in late-2020 by 9to5Google, along with notifications called Be Careful, Look Ahead, Stay Focused, Look Up, Stay Alert, Watch Out and Watch Your Step. Each warning is paired to an emoji to help reinforce the message.


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