Focus Mode in iOS 15: Better Work-Life Balance in a Hybrid World
I have been using iOS 15 for about a week now and have really grown to love the new feature. At first I installed it only on my iPhone and iPad, but after having it less than twelve hours I risked my sanity and installed the betas on my Watch and Macs (Namely since the Watch betas are one-way streets & having to restore a Mac in the middle of the work week is also awful). The reason I did that was the key feature of Focus Mode is it is a customizable and more powerful Do not Disturb Mode that syncs across all of your devices. A lot of us have Used Do Not Disturb mode on our iPhones or Apple Watches, particularly if you exercise and it triggers automatically. Others have used Do Not Disturb while driving if they turned it on in settings or have CarPlay in their car. Some of us Apple Watch nuts who have use sleep tracking have used Sleep mode, which is a form of Do Not Disturb as well, which puts the watch into a lower power state, turns off the screen, mutes the audio, and even spots the haptics from going off when you are sleeping. Focus Mode in iOS is all of that and more, much more.
Focus Mode helps us divide up the spheres of our life
Focus Mode has these previous Driving, Exercising, and Sleeping modes, but they also add two more at first, Work and Personal Focus modes with the option to add more. It allows you to tie Focus Modes to things like Location, Time of Day, and Apps being launched. When I get to work, it mutes iMessages from non-work contacts + silences notifications from personal apps, all based of location based from iPhone’s GPS. This Focus syncs to my Apple Watch, iPad Pro, and iMac so I don’t get pinged on those devices and more importantly I don’t have to remember to pull out my iPad before a meeting and remember to silence it. I can allow certain people through of course and in emergencies I can let people bust through it like the Kool Aid Man. When I get home, the reverse happens, my work apps get silenced and my personal contacts and apps are given more prominence. I still get emails or Teams messages of course, but they are kinda pushed to the bottom of my notification pane on my iPhone or Watch. You can even get granular and have different home screens turn on and off depending on the mode that you are in, this is a feature that I’m just starting to experiment with. Another neat thing is I let others know when I’m in a Work Focus mode, but I hide that I’m in a Person Focus mode, that way to outsiders it appears that I’m open to conversations.
Reading, Gaming, Podcasting, and More
I’ve now defined custom Focus Modes now. Reading triggers when I open up Apple Books, Kindle, or an RSS reader application. It blocks out ALL notifications for me. Gaming does the same thing, but gives me a custom Home Screen with just my games, which is normally hidden in my App Library and it activates when I connect a gaming controller to my Apple device. Podcasting is like a modified Do Not Disturb, but allows my cohost to get through to me so when I’m recording a podcast I am not distracted by outside notifications or have notifications popping up on my devices when I record, something useful if we ever decide to switch to a video podcast.
I think most people will not touch half of what these Focus Modes are capable of, but as an enthusiast I love how this new feature allows me to have better control of my devices and therefore my time. I love technology, but there is a risk that it can end of consuming you when you don’t want it to and with people redefining and negotiating their relationships with things like work, society, and people, having more ways to put work affairs or personal time at arm’s distance is important and allows you to be more in the moment rather than worrying so much about what is going on in other spheres of your life. By sharing with others that you are in a Focus mode, Apple really has been thoughtful with this feature that gives you, the user, ultimate control, but also lets you allow others to break through in emergencies or times of need. Like anything, its about a balancing act, but I think Focus Mode gives you a lot more tools as modern human living in this ever changing world to have more control of your most personal computing devices.