"Use with caution. Heads Up doesn't replace paying attention."
Android smartphones are about to start nagging users to pay attention and watch where they're going when they detect that they're texting or scrolling while walking.
The new — and optional — warnings have already started to roll out in beta form to some Pixel phones through Android's Digital Wellbeing service, according to The Verge. Google has yet to clarify much more about the rollout, but it's likely that more phones with Digital Wellbeing will also see the pedestrian warnings soon as well.
— Jay Prakash Kamat (@jay__kamat) April 11, 2021
It seems a little goofy to have your phone warn you against using your phone while walking around, but thousands of pedestrians die every year, 9to5Google reports, so the occasional alert reminding people to "stay alert" or "look up" wouldn't be the worst interruption to your on-the-go doomscrolling. And given that a Japanese city actually banned phone use while walking, it's not the most out-there idea in the world.
"Use with caution. Heads Up doesn't replace paying attention," the system reportedly warns users.
Like other aspects of Digital Wellbeing, which also monitors app usage and can help filter out notifications to encourage people to stop checking their phones, the warnings will end up being total optional, according to a report from XDA Developers.
The beta itself needs to be manually installed, so it's not like your phone would immediately start pestering you as soon as it updates. Maybe people will end up switching it off in annoyance after their phone chides them for texting on the move. But given the potential hazards of getting sucked into a Twitter thread while crossing the street, maybe give it a shot?
READ MORE: New ‘Heads Up’ feature nags distracted Android users to look up while walking [The Verge]
More on texting and walking: A Japanese City Just Banned Using Phones While Walking