Google is set to enter the next phase of rolling out Android, 9 Pie, next month when it unveils a new generation of its Pixel smartphones.
However, before that happens, the company has been testing Android on both its existing lineup of Pixel smartphones as well as several smartphones from its partners, other device makers like OnePlus, Essential, Sony, Nokia etc, over the last few months before finally revealing it officially last month.
The Nokia 7 Plus, which I reviewed not long ago and which is the best Android One smartphone that anyone can buy in Kenya right now, happens to be one of the few devices privileged to have been part of the Android P beta programme which is just folding now that the final build of the software is almost here (and already available to some other devices like the Essential phone).
While the Nokia 7 Plus and other devices have been lucky to be among the chosen few that have had early access to Android 9 Pie, they’ve not been as lucky when it comes to getting a taste of everything that’s coming starting next month.
This is because Google has restricted some of the features that it showcased at this year’s Google I/O, to its Pixel devices. This is understandable, though, since at such a stage, some things are better tried out on devices where the company not only has end-to-end control but can also iterate faster so that we have a finished product come October. However, some of those features, like the Digital Wellbeing feature that has been available to Pixel Pie users since early August, are just too good for anyone not to be envious of the Pixel people.
For those not in the know, as noted before, the Digital Wellbeing feature is inspired by our increasing reliance on our mobile devices for just about everything. While that is a good thing for all of us who like seeing technology as an enabler, it is not without its fair share of problems. Many have argued, and they are now backed by various well-meaning research findings, that spending far too much time on the tiny gadgets we love so much can have disastrous effects. From getting little sleep to altered sleeping cycles because of the blue light from our smartphone screens to anxiety and depression because of all the faux good life everyone seems to be having on Instagram to not exercising because, YouTube.
As a result of all the aforementioned issues and many more, Google came up with the Digital Wellbeing feature so that users of devices running the mobile platform it backs, Android, have some level of control over how they interact with their devices but this time round, for just their own, well, well-being. As such, the feature lets users view statistics like how much time they’ve spent on various apps in a day through the Dashboard, the number of notifications received, the number of times one has unlocked their device (I remember using a third-party app to do this exact same thing on my Samsung Galaxy S4 a few years ago), set timers in the aptly-named Wind Down mode among other things. Details here.
Now, all those features are at the disposal of Nokia 7 Plus users an update to the Digital Wellbeing app on the Google Play Store now unlocks the application for download and installation on the device.
This makes the Nokia 7 Plus the first non-Pixel device with access to Digital Wellbeing.
To get Digital Wellbeing to work should be pretty simple. Get the app from the Play Store (see link below) then navigate to the Nokia 7 Plus’ settings app and enable Digital Wellbeing. Simple as that. Once you do that, you may also want to give Chris Lacy’s app a try as well so that you don’t have to go the settings app every time you want to see how you’re faring through your day.
The catch here is that the device should be running the latest beta build of Android 9 Pie. That shouldn’t be a problem, as well, since we have previously highlighted how to go about that in this article. In the event that you’ve managed to get Android 9 Pie beta running on your Nokia 7 Plus (which is the harder task, in my opinion) but still can’t find a way to get Digital Wellbeing to work, this video by NPU, who broke this news, will come in quite handy.
While Nokia 7 Plus users can bask in all this glory right now, those who have other devices that also have Android Pie builds can also join in the fun, albeit in an unofficial capacity. For instance, those with the OnePlus 6 need to go through a dumbed-down baptism by fire process in order to get Digital Wellbeing, or a semblance of the feature, working.