How to Cut Down Notifications and Minimize Distractions with Focus on iOS 15

Apple’s iPhone and iPad are arguably the most popular personal computing devices available today. With every iOS release, Apple unveils new features that enable you to do more with these devices. Unfortunately, the whole experience has also become too distracting. Most modern apps are constantly fighting for your attention with repetitive notifications, in addition to the plethora of calls and SMS you’re already annoyed with. Thankfully, in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Apple has taken a major leap in helping users minimize distractions with the introduction of the Focus feature.

Focus on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 can be described as a way to selectively choose which people and apps can disturb you with notifications. You can create multiple Focus areas on your iPhone and iPad devices, customizing each one with the exact set of apps you want to receive notifications from.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Focus feature on iOS 15 and how it’ll help you gain peace of mind.

What is Focus on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15?

The Focus feature is essentially the evolution of the Do Not Disturb mode in iOS. Rather than being just an ON/OFF toggle, Focus has been introduced in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 to enable users to minimize distractions and gain some peace of mind by giving granular control over what calls & notifications should be allowed to come through.

A simple explanation of the Focus would be a set of notification filters created by you for different times of the day, so that you are alerted about only those notifications you care about — a lot like the Smart Notifications in Spark. And to top it off, Spark already supports the Focus mode on iOS 15, so you can continue receiving important notifications while avoiding distractions with much greater control.

You can set up different areas of Focus, such as Personal, Work, Gaming, Reading, etc., and then choose which apps and people are allowed to ask for your attention. For example, during your work hours, you may want to cut out all distractions from your phone but may still want to receive important work-related notifications from apps such as Slack, Spark, Google Drive, etc. Similarly, when you’re working out in the gym or out on an evening walk, you’re likely to expect notifications from your health & fitness apps, but not from social media. Focus lets you fine-tune such focus areas, so you can minimize distractions and increase your productivity.

What makes the Focus feature really good is how smart it is. You can have a certain Focus area turn on automatically when you’re at a specific location (such as your office), at a specific time (such as when you usually sleep), or even when using certain apps (such as for games).

There’s a lot to love about the Focus feature, so let’s take a closer look at how to set it up.

How to use Focus on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15?

Getting started with Focus areas on your iPhone and iPad is really easy. Here’s a simple guide that’ll help you set up the basics, which you can then customize according to your specific needs and requirements.

First, ensure that your iPhone or iPad has been updated to iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 respectively. Unlike previous releases, Apple is pushing these as optional updates. Your devices won’t be automatically updated unless you go to Settings → General → Software Update and tap on the iOS 15 / iPadOS 15 option at the bottom of the screen.

Once you’re updated, follow this simple guide to setting up Focus on iPhone and iPad.

  1. Open the Settings app and tap on Focus.

  1. Choose between the preset options Personal, Sleep, or Work.

  1. Optionally, tap the + icon at the top right of the screen to create your own Focus area. For this example, we’ll choose Work.
  2. Read the overview of features, then tap Next.
  3. Choose the People you want to allow notifications from. For work, this would include your boss and colleagues. It’s also a good idea to include a family member, in case of emergencies.

  1. Next, tap on Calls From and choose how you want to allow incoming calls — Everyone, No One, Favorites, or All Contacts. 
  2. On the next screen, choose the apps you’d like to see notifications from. This list would typically include your work-related apps, but the choice is yours. Spark is a tremendous choice when it comes to work email, thanks to all its team features, so we highly recommend you give it a try. Get Spark for Free.

  1. You can separately allow “Time Sensitive” notifications from other apps, which is a special class of notifications on iOS 15 that is, well, time-sensitive. Notifications from apps like Calendars, Reminders, To-do apps are only useful when delivered at the precise time you want to be alerted about, so you should enable them. Notifications from Readdle’s Calendars app are time-sensitive by default, so you’ll never miss those important event notifications.
  2. Repeat the steps above for other Focus areas you want to set up on your iPhone or iPad.

Your Focus area is now ready with your choices, but we haven’t actually told your device when to enable it.

The easiest way to enable your new Focus is from the Control Center. Just swipe down from the top-right to access the Control Center, then tap on this icon to choose from the available Focus areas.

Tapping on the moon itself enables the Do Not Disturb, but tapping next to the moon lets you choose the Focus you want to use.

Focus is actually pretty smart. You can automate when each Focus gets enabled on your device. Let’s learn about automating the Focus feature now.

How to Automate Focus modes on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15?

  1. Open the Settings app and tap on Focus.

  1. Choose the Focus area you want to automate.

  1. Tap on Add Schedule or Automation.
  2. Select how you want to automate your focus — Time, Location, or App. There are handy examples under each, so they’re quite easy to understand.

  1. There’s also the Smart Activation option, which is where your device learns about your daily usage and turns on the Focus automatically at relevant times. We recommend enabling this feature for less important Focus areas like Reading or Fitness, but stick to the above three options for Work or Sleep focus.
  2. You can even have multiple choices enabled at the same time, so mix and match as you please.

That’s it, your Focus automations on iPhone and iPad and now set up.

Note: On the main Focus list screen, the Share Across Devices option is enabled by default. Focus isn’t just available on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, it also works on the Apple Watch running watchOS 8 and will also be available on macOS Monterey when it ships later this year. As long as you’re signed in to the same iCloud account on your devices, all your Focus areas will be kept in sync.

The Focus feature on iOS 15 is very helpful in cutting down through the noise of notifications on your iOS device, and is a handy feature to enable. Once you set it up, it continues to help you in your day-to-day lives, and you continue tweaking it to your liking.

Readdle’s apps have already been updated to support many of the new features shipping in iOS 15, and we urge you to try them out.

Read more about the amazing iOS 15 updates to Readdle apps.

Preshit Deorukhkar Preshit Deorukhkar

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