A new app takes Google’s Digital Wellbeing features — a set of helpful tools for telling which apps you’re spending too much time in — and opens many of them up to all Android phones. It’s called ActionDash, and it comes from the developer of the home screen customization app Action Launcher.
When you open it, ActionDash shows you a clear breakdown of which apps have been taking up your time today, how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, and how many notifications you’ve received. Swiping to different screens allows you to see breakdowns by day, by hour, and by app.
ActionDash looks and feels almost exactly like Digital Wellbeing. The apps are so similar that while comparing the two side by side on my phone, I frequently had to double check which app I was in. Though it is missing some key features of Google’s tool, like the ability to set app usage limits.
The similarities aren’t necessarily a bad thing. There are ways in which ActionDash is easier to navigate (everything is just a swipe to the left or right, whereas Digital Wellbeing has more hidden screens). And Digital Wellbeing’s feature set is streamlined enough that it should (hopefully) let you quickly understand which apps are sucking up your time, without drawing you down a rabbit hole of additional data.
“I’m not trying to recreate Digital Wellbeing verbatim.”
There’s really only one major feature ActionDash has that Digital Wellbeing doesn’t: it’s available to everyone. Google has, for whatever reason, limited its app to Pixel phones and Android One devices, meaning that only a very small portion of Android users can get it.
“The opportunity to bring Google’s latest features to devices that are unlikely to ever receive them from Google / OEMs / carriers certainly is always appealing to me,” Chris Lacy, the developer behind ActionDash, says in an email.
That’s been Lacy’s approach with Action Launcher, too. It’s an easy-to-use customization tool that frequently allows users to make their older Android phones look more like newer Android phones, by mimicking the latest version of Google’s OS.
ActionDash does have a couple of other added flares, like a dark mode and the ability to get a daily notification summing up your usage. Digital Wellbeing, on the other hand, requires you to open the app every time you want to see what you’ve been up to. (There’s certainly an argument to be made for that being the right move, given that this app is meant to help reduce distractions, notifications, and general phone overload.)
Lacy says that he’s exploring ways to add app usage timers, but they’re not available at launch, while some other features included in Google’s tool, like activating a system-wide black-and-white mode to discourage you from using your phone, can’t be triggered by third-party apps. He also says those things aren’t meant to be the focus of ActionDash, which he sees more as a data tool. “To be honest, offering such features is not the focus of ActionDash,” he says. “I’m not trying to recreate Digital Wellbeing verbatim.”
Other apps exist that provide similar usage-tracking features, but ActionDash does so in a way that’s particularly simple and easy to get started with. Crucially, it also promises to protect the privacy of your usage data. Lacy says that it’ll all stay on the device, unaccessible to himself and third parties.
ActionDash is available for free, with a paid upgrade that removes ads and offers a few bonus features, like dark mode.