In 2018, as part of the iOS 12 release, Apple added screen time tracking capabilities for the iPhone. Since that time developers have been pushing Apple to make the data exposed by this functionality available via API. The tech giant has finally acquiesced.
The newly released Screen Time API is especially useful for developers who build applications used by children. Parents are frequently looking for better ways to manage screen time for their children, especially given that the APA has strict guidance for the amount of time children should spend on devices. Using this new API developers will be able to lock application access until a certain time has passed, or a parent unlocks the application manually. The API will also help with setting standards for password changes, web traffic, and app access.
Apple also noted that it has paid special attention to privacy when developing the API. With TechCrunch noting that Apple told them:
“The system returns only opaque tokens instead of identifiers for the apps and website URLs, Apple told developers, so the third-parties aren’t gaining access to private user data like app usage and web browsing details. This would prevent a shady company from building a Screen Time app only to collect troves of user data about app usage, for instance.”