Google Pixel Performance May Be Crippled By Android's Digital Wellbeing Feature

Pixel 3
Does your Pixel device feel like it is harboring untapped performance potential? Is it acting sluggish at times, or have you noticed any unusual stuttering? If so, the culprit could be Google's Digital Wellbeing feature in Android 9 Pie, which is designed to help you manage how much time you are spending on your smartphone. Turning it off could actually help solve performance issues.

The Digital Wellbeing app offers a daily view of your digital habits, including how frequently you use different apps, how many notifications you receive, and how often you check your phone. It allows you to set limits for how much you use apps, and can silence notifications at nighttime to ensure a good night's rest, among other things.

Over on Reddit, however, there are multiple threads pointing to the app hampering performance on a range of Pixel devices, both past and present.

"Saw it was a known bug on some YouTube comment about the Pixel 3a, turned it off on my Pixel 3 and it has made the world of difference. Can't believe I was living with so much stuttering thinking it was normal. The difference is like night and day. If you have a Pixel 3, I highly recommend you give it a go even if you think you have no performance issues," user ploewer wrote.

Digital Wellbeing
There are numerous complaints of Google's Digital Wellbeing app causing performance woes on Pixel devices.

Several others have chimed in with similar testimonials. One user said disabling Digital Wellbeing on his first generation Pixel XL "made a huge f**king difference." Another user said he chalked up the stuttering on his first-gen Pixel XL as it being an aged device, but noticed that "even the camera is snappier" after disabling Digital Wellbeing.

In a separate thread, Trueray17 said he spent months trying to resolve the stuttering and sluggishness he observed on his Pixel 3. He tried rebooting, uninstalling unwanted apps, clearing cache, and even full system wipes, all to no avail.

"A few days ago I stared at my Pixel 3 just confused why is performance so terrible, I personally don't believe it's the lack of ram but software related. I asked myself what is the last big feature that Google added to Android Pie?! Just maybe that is the culprit. Then, Digital Wellbeing came in to mind," he wrote.

After disabling the feature, he claims his phone has been "butter smooth" with no more stuttering or lag. He also noted that "switching between apps is a breeze now, no more text input lag just speedy performance throughout the whole UI. Also, if you reduce animations in developer options it's a whole new experience (blazing fast)."

Pixel 3a

There might be something to this, given the number of complaints and testimonials that cover a variety of Pixel phones, including the recently launched Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. If you own a Pixel phone and want to see for yourself if this makes a difference, head to Settings, select Digital Wellbeing, tap the three dots in the upper-right corner and select Turn off usage access. Confirm it when asked on the Usage access screen, then turn off permit usage access.

As far as we can tell, this is not a acknowledged issue by Google, so it is unclear if the company is working on a fix.