“If you’re looking at your phone more than you’re looking into someone’s eyes, you’re doing the wrong thing,” Tim Cook says.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has told a summit that the company doesn’t want customers to spend all of their time on its devices.
Medical bodies and professionals have warned about the amount of time that adults and children are spending in front of screens, although suggested optimal amounts differ.
Governments have warned that technology companies design addictive games and media platforms to encourage users to turn them a profit, regardless of how that may affect their health.
But, speaking to the Time 100 Summit, Mr Cook refuted the suggestion that this was what Apple wanted to do.
“Apple never wanted to maximise user time, we’re not motivated by this by a business point of view,” he said.
Mr Cook added: “Every time you pick up the phone, it means you are taking your eyes off the person you are dealing with.
“If you are looking at your phone more than you are looking at someone’s eyes you are doing the wrong thing.”
Encouraging the audience to do the same, Mr Cook said he had “gutted” the number of apps which were sending him push notifications.
“I asked myself: ‘Do I really need to be getting thousands of notifications a day?’
“It’s not something that is adding value to my life, or is making me a better person, and so I went in and chopped that,” he said.
Apple introduced its push notification service in 2009 and has since added features, including location-based alerts (to remind you to buy milk when you walk past the shop).
At the time it seemed like a feature entirely constructed to force users to spend more time engaging with their phone – but now even the company’s CEO is retreating from the tool.
Last June the company unveiled new features to help users control how often they were using their phones.
This included a new feature called Screen Time which is designed to send users weekly reports about how they use their iOS devices.
“There is a human trait in all of us to underestimate the degree of something bad we are doing,” said Mr Cook.
“If you ask someone how many calories they had yesterday, I bet you they will tell you they had less than they actually had,” he added.
The company’s new feature is designed to address that by informing users about how much time they’re spending on their devices.