Smartphone addiction is real and a number of tech giants and app developers have come with an array of usage-tracking services that are intended to curb this addiction.
Google’s Digital Wellbeing service is one such app, promising to transparently track and measure phone usage while offering ways to minimise screen time in certain apps.
In fact, one Pixel 3 user claims to have turned off Digital Wellbeing to find that the difference in performance was like “night and day.”
At present, the only fix appears to be to disable the app’s access to certain Android OS features. This does somewhat cripple its capabilities but also helps alleviate apparent slowdowns.
Turning off Digital Wellbeing on a Pixel device
Step 1: To turn off Digital Wellbeing, open the app and tap on the three button menu on the upper right side of the screen.
Step 2: Select ‘Turn off usage access’ and a box will appear.
Step 3: Inside the box, click on Turn off in Settings. That will take you to the Usage access page.
Step 4: Tap on Digital Wellbeing and toggle off Permit usage access.
If you do disable usage access, the data on the app is supposed to disappear within 24 hours. If you turn usage access back on, Digital Wellbeing will use the last ten days of data from your phone’s internal storage.
We tried disabling the feature on a Pixel 3a XL unit and didn’t notice any immediate change in speed after disabling the feature. However, several Redditors claim that disabling the feature smoothen out framerate issues, as well as improve the speed and fluidity of everyday actions like switching between apps.
For those wondering, disabling usage access doesn’t impact some of the core features of Digital Wellbeing. The Wind Down feature, for example, which allows users to schedule a time for Do Not Disturb mode, Night Light mode and the grayscale filter to appear at certain hours, still works fine.