Apple’s Weekly Screentime Report

Apple’s Weekly Screentime Report

If you’re anything like me, you’re completely addicted to your iPhone.

This may be great for Apple’s hardware and app sales, but it’s a real problem for consumers in the digital age. Well, Apple recognizes this, and in an effort to cut back on screen addiction, launched an app call Screen Time.

Forbes published a great piece on how Screen Time helps cut down on phone addiction, but I want to dive into why this report does a great job at distilling the incredible amount of data Apple has on usage into a few key points the consumer can use to change behavior.

The essence of really good analytics is to change behavior for the better, whether that’s in growing revenues, or in this case, only using our pocket-sized supercomputers for productive tasks.


The data

The data is broken down into four main sections: Screen Time, Most Used, Pickups, and Notifications.

Up first, Screen Time catches  the viewer’s eye with a bar graph that includes:

  • Total Screen Time Today

  • Amount of Screen time per hour

  • A trend vs the average

  • Breakdown of all the categories shown with totals


Most Used, a section that covers all of the top used apps, contains:

  • Each app ranked by usage

  • A total amount of time used per app

  • A bar chart showing usage to scale for a comparison


Below Most Used is a breakdown of Pickups, or the number of times someone picks up their phone, covering:

  • Number of pickups per hour

  • The first pickup of the day

  • Total pickups for today

  • Apps ranked by the first used after pickup

The pickup app ranking is probably the most complicated piece of data, but it tells the story of why you’re picking up the phone. It answer the key question: “Why am I picking up my phone?”


Finally we have Notifications, which covers:

  • Total notifications today

  • Notifications for the top apps

  • Average notifications per hour

  • Hourly bar graph


All of this data is also broken down into 1 day and 7 day visualizations and in typical Apple fashion, they’re illustrated beautifully.

Now it’s worth mentioning that the Screen Time has much more in depth features that allow you to pick a custom date range, drill into specific apps, and set downtime, limits and blockers. But for the purpose of this post we’ll cover the summary report.

Apple Screentime.png

Why this is Really Good Analytics

The goal of Screen Time is to show users how much and how often they use their phones in an effort to change their behavior.

It’s not the “what” that makes Screen Time noteworthy, it’s the “how”.

Apple starts with a stacked bar graph broken down by categories such as Social Networking, Games, Reading & Reference, Productivity, and Entertainment to bring the viewer in and stoke interest in what’s going on with one, summary chart.

Each bar represents one hour of activity. This allows users to look at their day as a series of events.

The most important feature of this stacked bar graph is that it serves as a perfect introduction to more comprehensive data. It’s not overbearing. It shows an overview that causes the viewer to ask questions. What happened at 8 am? Where is my time going? How does all of this compare to the rest of the week?

Scrolling down the screen you immediately start to answer these questions. You can see what’s dominating your time and therefore where you can cut out the most time wasted.

Telling a narrative

Despite having a plethora of information they could show users, Apple distills this report into what insights will drive action. They take the approach of quality over quantity and they do it in a way that tells a narrative, from top to bottom.

Think for a second if these were done out of order, with Most Used Apps then Pickups then an overview and then Notifications. All the same data is there, but it wouldn’t make sense. It wouldn’t tell a story.

Telling a very clear story of cause and effect from Overview to Most Used Apps to Pickups to Notifications, Apple gets to the root of the issue and consciously give the user the data they need while allowing their curiosity to lead them further.

What we’d like to see next

Right now, by default, Apple only shows daily or weekly data. Although this is certainly actionable, it limits the ability to analyze my trends. I can’t see how I’m improving over time.

We also can’t see other contributing factors like location.

What we want to see next is the ability to view all the same data by month and by location. In order to answer other key questions questions:

Do I use my phone more when I’m at work or when I’m at home?

How much have I used my phone this year?

What does that look like on a monthly basis?

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