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Android’s Digital Wellbeing app will now remind you that you might walk into traffic while texting

This should be common sense, but here we are.

android digital wellbeing app
Image: KnowTechie

A new feature called “Heads Up” is coming to Android’s Digital Wellbeing service, which will nag you to look up so you don’t walk into traffic if you’re using your phone while walking places. Currently, it’s only available in the beta version of the Digital Wellbeing app, and even then you still need to manually enable it.

Once enabled, your Android phone will use its sensors to know if you’re using your phone while walking, and give you periodic notifications to “Watch your step,” “Stay alert,” and “Look up.” Google does remind the user that “Heads Up doesn’t replace paying attention,” which is probably a wise statement.

Distracted walking is getting more and more of a safety issue, with the NHTSA saying 6,283 pedestrians were killed in traffic incidents in 2018. Sure, cars could also be updated with auto-braking systems that can detect pedestrians, but isn’t this the country of personal responsibility?

Pedestrians should be watching where they’re walking, even if they’re on the sidewalk and not crossing the road. I lost count with how many times I’ve walked into street signs or lampposts that were set further back from the roadway than usual, and that was in the days before everyone had a smartphone in their pockets. Maybe a future update could enable an augmented reality view on your phone, so you can still see your surroundings on your smartphone’s screen.

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