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Apple’s About to Make Your iPhone Cooler (And Help You Use It Less)

June 3, 2018, 7:41 PM UTC

Just shy of 10 years after the debut of the App store, Apple seems to feel conflicted about the hyperconnected world it has helped create. The most anticipated announcements at the iPhone creator’s software-focused 2018 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week include a feature designed to help you spend less time staring at your phone, alongside some big ones that seem destined to keep users even more hooked.

Apple has largely dodged the recent wave of public outrage and anxiety over tech’s addictive and privacy-eroding nature. But it has faced some criticism from shareholders, and it is expected this week to announce more robust parental controls and usage-tracking features for the iPhone. Those are coming as part of a push for “Digital Health,” according to Cnet.

At the same time, though, sources recently told Reuters that WWDC will introduce major augmented reality features to iOS. If megahit Pokémon GO is any indicator, augmented reality – which layers virtual objects onto the real world – could make screen time even more addictive for some.

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Reuters says the new iOS feature will allow at least two players to interact with shared virtual objects embedded in the real world. True to form, Apple’s version of that trick is expected to have more robust privacy protections than similar features recently introduced for Google’s Android mobile platform.

Bloomberg also reported last week that multiplayer AR features will be a big part of the new iOS, expected to be known as iOS12. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Apple is working on an augmented reality headset scheduled for release in 2020.

A handful of less dramatic upgrades to iOS and the desktop macOS are also expected to be announced at the 2018 WWDC, including iOS tweaks to notifications, video calling, and animoji. Though Apple has used WWDC to showcase hardware in the past, no big reveals on that front are expected this year.