Gadgets are like people. They age. They slow down.
Gadgets do it faster, so it’s expected that after 18 months your phone just won’t be the same.
, however, was a reasonably solid thing. Until he started losing energy like a playmaker who was traded 13 times.
Something weird was happening. My iPhone generally had excellent battery life for me; I often didn’t have to charge it all day.
Then one Sunday morning, I received an alert from Apple. I signed up for alerts to monitor my screen time, in the vain hope that I could reduce it.
This alert told me that I had used my iPhone an average of more than 17 hours a day over the past week.
I may have a few issues – regular readers will know there are plenty – but I was pretty sure I hadn’t stared at my phone screen for seven hours a day. I ignored the alert, of course. I was busy. Clearly, Apple had missed. Apple blunders sometimes, doesn’t it?
The following Sunday, I received another alert telling me that my iPhone usage had increased to 18 hours a day. I began to wonder if I had accidentally ingested deleterious substances that were altering my sense of time.
It occurred to me that the culprit might be a nefarious app, as suggested by my colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes in his comprehensive analysis of iPhone battery drain issues. However, I couldn’t think what app could have caused this. I use apps sparingly – I can’t think of any that I use for a drastically extended period of time.
Still, I clicked on my iPhone’s Screen Time activity data and, oh, look: I’d apparently enjoyed over 100 hours of New York Times the previous week.
I was sure that hadn’t happened. I’m sure no one enjoys more than 100 hours of New York Times a week, not even the people who work at the New York Times. Fortunately, Apple has a tool that allows you to limit the time you spend on any site. I concluded that five minutes of Times time per day was enough.
But my screen time was not decreasing.
The following week, I had apparently acquired an obsession with Variety–a The obsession with 100 hours a week. Please, I already have enough drama in my life. Why would I want more? Again, Variety was put on a five-minute diet.
However, over the weeks my iPhone insisted that I was spending an insane amount of time on YouTube, the The Wall Street Journal, and even the Australian news site news.com.au.
None of this had happened. Or, at least, none of this had happened to my knowledge. So it all went on the five-minute diet, and my screen time numbers magically dropped. Temporarily.
A few Sundays ago, I went from screen time to scream time. Apple told me that I had apparently watched 115 hours of Gawker within a week.
I tried to discover the common denominator between all these sites. It was like trying to find the common denominator between the victims of a serial killer on a television detective show.
Here is what I concluded: I had watched a video on each of these sites via Flipboard. More often than not, I start watching a video and quickly decide I know where it’s going. So I walk away from this page and keep flipping through more bad news.
It seems, however, that this has allowed the videos on these sites to autoplay endlessly – to the delight, the dry comedians of their ad sales team might think.
It’s not to blame Flipboard or any of those sites. In technology, random events happen, despite the best efforts of engineers.
Still, I reached out to Flipboard to ask about that joy. A company spokeswoman told me the company had never heard of this before. She was clear that this shouldn’t be happening and kindly opened a ticket for the engineers to investigate.
I’m now told engineers are testing a potential fix.
Yet now I have to monitor not only my screen time activity, but also change my rollover behavior.
Meanwhile, my iPhone looks at me and sniffs, “See, that wasn’t me.”