Transcript: Apple CEO Tim Cook On Screen Time Controls, Working With China

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks Monday during the 2018 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference at the San Jose Convention Center. Source: Justin Sullivan

Tim Cook, who has led Apple since 2011, spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep in a wide-ranging interview on Monday as the company kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Steve Inskeep: Thank you very much for taking the time. This is really great to talk with you.

Apple CEO Tim Cook: It is great to be here with you.

I want to begin with some news that you made — and by the time people will hear this interview we will have explained essentially what it was — having to do with screen time and parental controls. I want to get at the thinking behind that: What, if anything, bothers you about the amount of time people are spending on your phones?

If you back up and think about what we've — what we're about — we've never been about maximizing usage of our devices. It's never been a focus of ours. What we've always try to do is infuse humanity into our products, and give you something that amplifies something you want to do, or enables you to create something that you couldn't create otherwise. And it — sort of to make your difference in the world. And so that's where we've always been about.

There's clearly users out there that are worried about the amount of time they're spending, or the amount of distraction or interruptions that they get. So we thought really deeply about this and, sort of our latest is what you call a "Screen Time." But we've done many things over the years; this is sort of the latest thing that we're doing. And essentially it's about giving you insight, so you know how much time you're spending, where you're spending it, how many times per hour you're picking up a device, how many notifications you get, who's sending those to you. And so — because we want to give the power to the user. Right now we can all almost kid ourselves a bit about how much time we're spending, and whether we're distracted or not. There's nothing like getting a report of facts to see what is happening to you.

And parents are obviously very interested in having this for their kids as well. We've been doing things for parental control since the creation of the App Store, but this gives parents another huge tool to use.

I want to ask about your thinking though because you could say "I'm responding to demand and there's some shareholders that wanted this," but are you actually bothered, are you actually concerned by the possibility that what you argue is a social good could be a social detriment?

I think there are cases in life where anything good, used to the extreme, becomes not good. And so, just like — you know, I can eat healthy food all day, but if I eat too much it's no longer good anymore. And so I think just like that, you can depend on your device so much, and spend so much time on certain apps, or

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