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This is the one new iOS 15 feature that’ll change your iPhone the most

Published Jun 26th, 2021 1:34PM EDT
iOS 15 Features Focus
Image: Arik/Adobe

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iOS 15 may seemingly not have as many game-changing new features as we’ve come to expect from previous iOS releases, but the update as a whole is certainly compelling. And if you happened to catch the WWDC keynote a few weeks ago, you might be glad to hear that iOS 15 includes a number of exciting features that Apple, for whatever reason, chose not to highlight during its online presentation.

That notwithstanding, one iOS 15 feature Apple did mention deserves a little bit more attention, if only for the fact that it has the potential to fundamentally change the way you interact with and use your iPhone on a day-to-day basis. And while enhanced FaceTime functionality and SharePlay are intriguing, today we’re talking about Focus.

As the name implies, Apple’s new Focus feature is designed to let users focus on the task at hand without getting bogged down or distracted with extraneous distractions or irrelevant notifications.

For example, users in iOS 15 can set up different Focus modes for certain types of behavior. So, for instance, you might have a work mode that filters out notifications from ESPN or non-work colleagues. Or you might have a sleep mode that silences everything but the most important notifications. You can also set up certain modes to turn on and off based on pre-set times and your geographic location.

What’s more, Focus modes can be set up to only display relevant apps, which is to say that if you’re in work mode, you can set up your device such that apps like Facebook and Twitter aren’t there tempting you to take an unnecessary 5-minute break that will inevitably stretch into an hour.

Apple notes:

Customers can set their device to help them be in the moment by creating a custom Focus or selecting a suggested Focus, which uses on-device intelligence to suggest which people and apps are allowed to notify them. Focus suggestions are based on users’ context, like during their work hours or while they’re winding down for bed, and when Focus is set on one Apple device, it automatically applies to their other Apple devices.

Focus mode comes at a time when our attention is being drawn in innumerable directions. Between texting, social media, gaming, and a constant barrage of news, being able to granularly make certain apps or notifications temporarily disappear is undoubtedly going to be a game-changer for many.

It’s worth noting that if you have your system set up such that text messages aren’t going through, the sender will see a message indicating that you silenced notifications along with an option to “Notify Anyway.” In other words, if there’s an emergency or if someone really needs to get ahold of you for something urgent, you don’t need to worry about completely being left in the dark.

Lifewire adds:

Finally—and most radically—you can enable and disable entire home screens. Thus, you could have a work home screen, an evening, and a weekend home screen. There’s no need to look at Slack on a Saturday, for example, or maybe you only want your read-later, chat, and TV/movie apps to show up in the evening.

You can then schedule these various Focus scenes or let your device handle them with Smart Activation. This automatically turns the scene on based on “location, usage, and more.”

In a way, Focus is something like Do Not Disturb on steroids, and once iOS 15 is released to the public at large later this fall, you may soon start to wonder how you managed to go so long without it.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.