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PSA: Digital Wellbeing and Do Not Disturb might mute your alarms if you're not careful
I’m personally a huge fan of Google’s new Digital Wellbeing initiative and Wind Down feature found in Android 9 Pie. But, as I almost found out the hard way, if you don’t have Do Not Disturb mode (DnD) set up correctly, the two features could have you accidentally missing your alarms.
Let me first set the scene for you. Just like any night, Digital Wellbeing’s Wind Down feature kicked in at 11 p.m., which enabled DnD and made my phone activate its grayscale color filter. When this takes place, I usually put my phone down, but I was in the middle of a YouTube video that I wanted to finish.
I didn’t mind the grayscale video, but DnD muted my phone’s audio. So instead of going into my device’s settings and disabling Wind Down, I instinctually pulled down the quick settings panel and turned off DnD until my video was done. When it was over, I swiped the notification shade down again and re-enabled the feature.
One thing to note here is that I never touched or properly set up DnD after flashing a fresh Android Pie build. Without it set up, DnD didn’t know how to handle incoming calls or what to do if alarms were enabled. By default, the feature mutes everything until it’s turned off.
In my mind, I had momentarily disabled DnD, but that shouldn’t have affected Digital Wellbeing. As I learned the next morning when neither of my alarms went off to wake me up, this was not the case.
After experimenting with the two different features, I found out that the primary DnD overrides the DnD found within Digital Wellbeing’s Wind Down. As you can see from the screenshots below, when Wind Down is active, it’s listed under the DnD quick setting. But after the DnD mode is toggled off and back on, the Wind Down feature is no longer displayed. And as I hadn’t told DnD to allow certain notifications, my phone was basically a silent brick.
So, how can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you? There are two things you can do: never mess with DnD while Wind Down is enabled, or, properly set up DnD. I’d recommend doing the latter just to make sure something doesn’t happen to you in the future by accident.
After jumping into the DnD settings, open the Sound & Vibration section. Here, toggle on Alarms so that they ring even if your phone is completely silenced. After that, you can dig further into the mode’s settings and change things to your liking.
At least with the bare minimum done, you won’t be waking up when you’re supposed to be in a meeting like I was.
Digital Wellbeing is technically in beta and is currently only available for Pixels, so this is something Google can easily fix before the feature launches officially later this year. Let’s just hope they do because the overlap of Wind Down and DnD can be confusing and cause users to miss more than just their alarms.