Smartphones have been an integral part of our society for decades and have fundamentally transformed our world. Just try to picture spending a whole day without touching your smartphone; it’s unimaginable, right? Smartphones are virtually unmatched by any other device when it comes to utility, convenience and sheer versatility. Their widespread use is therefore a no-brainer. However, more concerns are being raised that the way we are using our smartphones is harmful in the long run, so what is this new android blue light filter feature?
Almost half of smartphone users spend more than 5 hours daily on their mobile phones. For most people, your phone is probably the last thing you see before you sleep and the first thing you look at in the morning. Unfortunately, sleep is a major casualty of smartphone addiction; the more time you spend on your phone, the less time you have for sleep. The blue light emitted by your smartphone’s screen also plays a major role in your sleeping habits. Exposure to blue light from your phone at night will suppress the production and secretion of melatonin, a sleep-hormone that induces sleep. This keeps you alert at night leading to insomnia and a disrupted sleep cycle. Poor sleep and insomnia can have very serious repercussions on our health. Regular insufficient sleep directly reduces your life expectancy and puts you at risk of serious medical conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Blue light filtering apps have been available to help limit the effect of blue light but Google’s Wind down goes even a step further.
The Wind Down feature
Google recently announced that it is introducing a number of features in its upcoming Android P operating system that are designed to improve your ‘Digital Wellbeing.’ These features basically make it easier to disengage from your smartphone and focus on other things. You would think that Google wants you on your phone for as long as possible, in order to profit from the Ads and services you subscribe to. However, Google has instead decided to address the physiological and psychological pitfalls of excessive phone usage and urge you not to spend too much time staring at your phone.
Wind down feature in use
The Wind Down feature is just one of them. It is specially designed to encourage sleep for phone users at night. While blue light filters will only block blue light and limit its effect on your sleep patterns, Wind Down promises to do a lot more. Once you set your bedtime, the feature will first eliminate blue light then fade to grayscale as your time to sleep approaches. This monochrome display eliminates most of the light emitted by your phone, including blue light.
So, in addition to eliminating blue light, the monochrome display will certainly make using apps like Facebook and Instagram less tempting. The lack of colour on a black and white display is also less stimulating to the brain and will encourage you to fall asleep much faster. Wind Down automatically reverts to the normal display in the morning, so you don’t have to worry about turning it on and off yourself. Is this an effective android blue light filter? Read our conclusion below.
Other than Wind Down, Google also unveiled two other features as part of its Digital Wellbeing initiative: Shush and an android Dashboard. Shush is essentially an upgraded Do Not Disturb feature that allows you to completely silence your phone by flipping it onto its face. Only calls from previously selected ‘Starred Contacts’ will be able to get through. The Dashboard keeps track of how you use your phone; the time spent in each app, the number of times you unlock your phone and the number of notifications you are getting. If you think an app is wasting too much of your time, you can use the app timer to set time limits for apps, after which the app icon will appear grey on your screen.
Conclusion - Is the android blue light filter feature worth using?
Google has made a laudable effort to nudge us away from what could be termed as a universal smartphone addiction and help us get better sleep. Despite this, it’s important to remember that these features will only help you limit your smartphone use if you actually pay attention to them. Furthermore, unlike the Ocushield product range or Apple's Night Mode, Wind Down doesn't have much research behind it. No one has really scientifically studied how removing colour from a display affects users' attention, productivity, sleep, or mood.
All we have are anecdotal reports from a couple of users who've willingly experimented on themselves with the feature and claimed it helped them.