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In brief: Are you one of those people who become so engrossed with a phone while walking around, you forget to look up? It’s a practice many of us are guilty of. Luckily, Google’s “Head’s Up” mode for its Digital Wellbeing service reminds users to pay attention to their surroundings.
The folks at XDA Developers spotted the feature in a teardown of the Digital Wellbeing app back in September. A beta version now appears to be rolling out, with Twitter user @jay__kamat receiving it on his Pixel 4A handset.
Once you enable Heads Up—found inside the ‘Reduce Interruptions’ section of the Digital Wellbeing app—and allow location (optional) and physical activity permissions, you'll be warned whenever movement is detected while the screen is active. Alerts include “Be careful” and “Look ahead,” though Google does note: “Use with caution. Heads Up doesn’t replace paying attention.”
9To5Google reports that the feature has appeared in both the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 within the Digital Wellbeing beta build.
Using a phone while walking has become a problem in many countries, leading to increased collisions between pedestrians and vehicles. In 2016, we heard about a German city introducing embedded sidewalk traffic lights so phone users don’t have to look up from their screens. Locations in Australia and Holland tried the same experiment. The best solution, of course, is not to walk around using a handset.