Apple has unveiled new features to help users control how often they use their phones.

In what could be seen as an unusual step for a company which sells smartphones, features highlighting how long their customers spend on their devices will be rolled out.

The plans, which aim to improve digital well-being, include a new feature called Screen Time. It will send users weekly reports on how they use their iPhones or iPads.

Parents can also set up a feature which will send them reports from their children's phones and set time limits on app usage.

The new iOS 12 software that powers the iPhone and iPad was revealed during the company's annual developers conference.

Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, said it was important to sometimes "stop distractions" caused by smartphones.

A new "bedtime" mode will be made available, adding features to the Do Not Disturb setting to darken device screens and hide notifications until the morning.

Image: iPhone users will be able to limit the amount of time they spend on certain apps

Tech giants appear to be bending to pressure to address the potential health implications associated with overusing their products.

Last month, Google announced a digital health tool to help users monitor their device use and change their behaviours as needed.

Recent scrutiny over privacy concerns were also addressed, with Mr Federighi discussing updates to the macOS software which powers its laptops.

He announced the company was introducing a new Intelligent Tracking Prevention tool in its Safari web browser that would block social media "like" or "share" buttons on websites.

These tools can be used to track users around the internet.

Mr Federighi also said Apple was increasing its data protection features so that apps that can use a Mac's camera or microphone will need permission.

Apple also said it would start to restrict the data shared online from a device to make it harder for individual devices to be identified.

Not all updates are as weighty.

:: Redheads celebrate as 157 new emoji launched

Apple's use of smart emojis has been developed
Image: Apple's use of smart emojis has been developed

Animoji, the company's animated emoji which track a user's face, has been updated to include new animals, as well as the ability to detect if the person is sticking their tongue out.

A new version of the app, called Memoji, will now also enable users to create animated emoji of their own faces instead of using an animal face – a feature similar to one launched by rivals Samsung.

New augmented reality tools were announced, including a new AR measurement app called Measure, which is a digital ruler shown on the device's screen that can measure items seen through the camera.

The Photos app will use more artificial intelligence to help users search for photos, as well as share them with friends recognised in images.

More from Science & Tech

New group-calling capabilities for FaceTime were unveiled, meaning up to 32 people will be able to take part at a time.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch will now support a "Walkie-Talkie" app and will be able to log new types of exercise including yoga and hiking.

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