Speaking of drunk software and not being in service to our possessions, Screen Time on iOS and macOS has been shockingly buggy for me lately. It reports that I spent over 22 hours on my devices in a single day last week, and nearly 10 hours on another day this week. In both instances, a significant portion of the usage is supposedly occurring after midnight.
This has happened to be a number of times now, and it is always a web address that is the culprit for making up the excessive time spent. See the screenshot below. Apparently I was going wild, nonstop from midnight until just before 6pm.
It is quite clearly a bug, as evidenced by the per-app breakdown that Screen Time provides. It reports that I visited
http://hexedbits.localhost for over 18 hours, while simultaneously reporting that I used Safari for only 44 minutes. I was doing some local web development for hexedbits.com on my Mac that day using Safari, but certainly not for 18 hours.
For yesterday’s usage, Screen Time similarly reports that I visited one website for over 8 hours though used Safari for only 39 minutes. I remember the web page, which I only opened briefly on my phone. I’m not a “keep my tabs open” kind of guy. All tabs get closed by the end of every day, which makes this even more peculiar. I don’t know how Screen Time works under-the-hood, but I assume part of it is simply tracking the active processes. And so, my best guess is that Safari — on iOS and macOS — has a leak. In any case, you would think that Screen Time would be able to intelligently identity and throw out obviously bad data.
It’s all quite unfortunate, because I feel like I can’t trust any of the Screen Time reports now. This feature has helped me catch when I’m spending too much time on my devices, which usually means I’m feeling shitty. I suppose it’s all kind of ironic — a device telling me when I’ve used it too much, even though my mental health is obviously deteriorating from said usage, and I should just fucking go outside.
Update 14 February 2023
I’m disappointed but not surprised to report that Screen Time is still drunk. Over a year later and this bug persists. Like before, the issue is with Safari and the web. This supports my hypothesis that there must be a memory leak or something in the tracking code.
In this case, my Screen Time report is even more absurd than before. It thinks I spent over 24 hours each day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday looking at a screen — specifically using github.com for a weekly total of 85 hours. See the screenshot below. There are 168 hours in a week, yet Screen Time thinks I was using a device for nearly 113 of them.
It’s a shame, because this bug leaves Screen Time mostly useless for me. In particular, because these obviously erroneous reports skew historical data and weekly comparisons. If I’m trying to reduce my Screen Time, this bug prevents me from accurately tracking that. And isn’t that the entire point of Screen Time?