Jony Ive says “constant use” of iPhone is “misuse”

Apple design chief Jony Ive, speaking to New Yorker editor David Remnick at the publication’s Techfest conference in New York, repeated his belief that we should limit the time we spend with our noses in our smartphones and stay engaged in real life. Asked by Remnick what constitutes “misuse” of an iPhone, Ive replied “perhaps constant use.”

Some Americans do use their iPhones constantly.  A 2017 ComScore report says American adults spend 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphones every day. A 2016 eMarketer report says “mobile users” spend 4 hours and 5 minutes per day with their devices, which could include tablets. About 65% of digital media consumption now happens on mobile devices. 

One of Ive’s guiding principles for the design of the Apple Watch was to help people limit the time they spend staring at their iPhone screen. He reasoned that the “glanceable” notifications on the wrist might let people wave off unimportant or non-time-sensitive events happening on the paired iPhone and stay engaged in real life. This has been a reality for some Watch users, and not so much for others.

Ive’s message of smartphone moderation has always sounded a little odd coming from the mouth of an Apple executive, as the company grows richer the more time people spend gobbling up all kinds of services delivered through the iPhone. In fact, Apple’s services business is considered by many to be the long-term Great White Hope that will stabilize Apple’s business even when phone sales level off.