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iOS 16 notifications update will bring new Focus mode features

Published Apr 12th, 2022 7:31AM EDT
iPhone 13 Pro Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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WWDC 2022 will be here in less than two months, bringing over the main software features that Apple has prepared for its devices. As in previous years, iOS will be the main attraction of the show. After all, the operating system powers hundreds of millions of iPhones. And we already saw various rumors about the iOS features coming this year. iOS 16 should deliver interactive widgets and notifications improvements. Even hints of a new type of wearable device might appear in the update.

Nothing is confirmed at this point, however. And Apple is far from revealing any details earlier than supposed to. But a new discovery seems to prove that iOS 16 notifications changes are coming. It teases Apple might be improving the Focus mode functionality launched last year.

What is Focus mode

Launched with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Focus mode is a new iPhone and iPad feature that lets users customize their notifications experience and adapt it to their activities. Focus mode is an easy way to set up and automate the behavior of notifications around your schedule.

You can set up various Focus modes tailored for work and sleep and decide what sort of apps can send notifications. Similarly, you can choose who can contact you, and they’ll see whether you’re in a Focus mode when trying to reach you.

Finally, Focus mode lets you set up automations that trigger at certain times or locations. Or when you open up an app and you’re looking to avoid most notifications while using it.

Also, when enabled, Focus mode will run across all your devices, as long as you’re using the same Apple ID.

Given the large scope of Focus mode, it’s likely that updates like iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 will impact it. After all, new software releases for iPhone and iPad routinely improve the notifications features.

In a Bloomberg newsletter a few days ago, Mark Gurman said that iOS 16 will deliver “fairly significant enhancement across the board, including an update to notifications.” He didn’t refer to any specifics, and he didn’t mention Focus mode by name.

iOS 16 notifications

This brings us to 9to5Mac’s recent findings that seem to corroborate Gurman’s iOS 16 notifications update claims.

The blog discovered a new string in iOS 15.5 beta that includes a message for users. The OS advises them that the chosen Focus mode requires a software update:

Using an allowed list for this Focus will cause these settings to be lost on your other devices with newer software.

A device with newer software has updated this Focus to use a new configuration this device doesn’t support. To continue editing notifications on this device, update to the latest software or use an allowed list for this Focus.

While it’s unclear what the new Focus features are, it seems like they won’t work across devices unless all of them are updated to the latest OS versions. That means iOS 16 for iPhone/iPad and macOS 13 for Macs.

9to5Mac also found a string of code in iOS 15.5 beta that’s not related to iOS 16 notifications. But it’s important nonetheless, as it indicates that the new iPhone OS will not work on some older devices. Specifically, the code suggests the News app will get new functionality that requires iOS 16 to work. But Apple will inform users that some devices will not be able to run iOS 16.

Previous rumors said that devices like the iPhone 6s series and several older iPads would not run iOS 16 this year.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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