Google's Digital Wellbeing feature could be slowing Pixel devices: How to disable it

Disabling the digital wellbeing feature is said to smooth out framerate issues, general sluggishness.

Smartphone addiction is real and a number of tech giants and app developers have come with an array of usage-tracking services that are intended to curb this addiction.

Google’s Digital Wellbeing service is one such app, promising to transparently track and measure phone usage while offering ways to minimise screen time in certain apps.

However, as indicated by several threads on the r/GooglePixel subreddit, it looks like the app is causing the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL as well as the newly launched, Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL (review) to slow down.

In fact, one Pixel 3 user claims to have turned off Digital Wellbeing to find that the difference in performance was like "night and day."

Googles Digital Wellbeing feature could be slowing Pixel devices: How to disable it

Google Pixel 3 XL. Image: tech2/Prannoy Palav

At present, the only fix appears to be to disable the app's access to certain Android OS features. This does somewhat cripple its capabilities but also helps alleviate apparent slowdowns.

Turning off Digital Wellbeing on a Pixel device

Step 1: To turn off Digital Wellbeing, open the app and tap on the three button menu on the upper right side of the screen.
Step 2: Select 'Turn off usage access' and a box will appear.
Step 3: Inside the box, click on Turn off in Settings. That will take you to the Usage access page.
Step 4: Tap on Digital Wellbeing and toggle off Permit usage access.

Disabling Digital Wellbeing on any Pixel device. Image: tech2

Disabling Digital Wellbeing on any Pixel device. Image: tech2

If you do disable usage access, the data on the app is supposed to disappear within 24 hours. If you turn usage access back on, Digital Wellbeing will use the last ten days of data from your phone's internal storage.

We tried disabling the feature on a Pixel 3a XL unit and didn't notice any immediate change in speed after disabling the feature. However, several Redditors claim that disabling the feature smoothen out framerate issues, as well as improve the speed and fluidity of everyday actions like switching between apps.

For those wondering, disabling usage access doesn’t impact some of the core features of Digital Wellbeing. The Wind Down feature, for example, which allows users to schedule a time for Do Not Disturb mode, Night Light mode and the grayscale filter to appear at certain hours, still works fine.

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