How to use Focus mode in iOS 15

How to use Focus mode in iOS 15 on iPhone

iOS 15 boasts several new features that enhance personalization and productivity. Among these is Focus mode, which, as the name suggests, is designed to minimize distractions so you can focus on whatever you’re doing.

Moreover, it works across iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, so it’s a pretty nifty tool for those with multiple devices. I tested it out, and this article will show you how iPhone Focus works in iOS 15 and pretty much everything you need to know about the feature.

What is iPhone Focus mode in iOS 15? 

Focus is an advanced Do Not Disturb mode. It gives you more control, automation, and flexibility over what notifications you see at specific times of the day, from which contacts and apps.

While the generic Do Not Disturb mode would simply silence all your notifications, Focus lets you choose if you want to get specific priority notifications while silencing others. For instance, while you’re at work, you might want to mute all calls except those from your child’s school.

There are several different Focus “modes” you can set up and customize according to your needs. Here is the list of Focus options:

  1. Work
  2. Personal
  3. Driving
  4. Fitness
  5. Gaming 
  6. Reading 
  7. Custom

Focus also lets you customize the existing Do Not Disturb and Sleep modes on your devices. For instance, you can choose to get calls and messages from specific contacts or notifications from specific apps even when Do Not Disturb or Sleep is enabled.

Focus mode settings

In addition to the different Focus modes, you will also see a few different settings on the main screen of Focus. Let’s understand them before setting up Focus mode:

Basic Focus settings in iOS 15
  • Share Across Devices

By default, the option to Share Across Devices is enabled. This means, when you turn on a Focus mode, it will automatically apply to all your devices. You can choose to toggle off this setting if you like.

  • Focus Status

This setting lets you control which apps can see and share your Focus status. For instance, Messages can know your Focus status and show your contacts that you have a Focus mode enabled.

You can also choose to enable Auto-Reply which will reply to any messages you receive while in Focus, informing the sender that you have silenced notifications. They may then choose to notify you anyway if it is something urgent.

  • Phone Calls

Focus also lets you choose if you want to allow repeated calls to come through. That is, a second call from the same person within three minutes will not be silenced despite Focus being enabled. You can choose to set this to Everyone, Favorites, or No One.

How to use iPhone Focus mode on iPhone running iOS 15

Set up iPhone Focus mode

  1. Go to Settings and tap Focus. Here you will see four primary Focus modes.
    To access more modes, tap the ‘+ icon at the top-right.

    How to set up Focus in iOS 15 on iPhone
  2. Tap a mode to set it up. For instance, tap Work.
  3. Tap Next.
  4. Add contacts from whom you’d like to receive notifications and tap Add Contact.
    Alternatively, you can select Allow None to get no notifications.
  5. Tap Allow [no. of contacts] People to confirm.

    Add contacts from whom you'd like to receive notifications in iOS 15 Focus mode
  6. Next, select apps to allow notifications from in Work mode or tap Allow None.
  7. Optional: you can choose to allow Time-Sensitive Notifications.
    These are special urgent notifications that will break through your Focus mode settings even if they aren’t from the apps you’ve allowed.

    Select apps to allow notifications in Focus mode

Customize settings for iPhone Home Screen

Focus also gives you control over what your Home Screen looks like when specific modes are enabled. You can choose to have only specific Home Screen pages displayed when in Focus mode and hide all the pages you don’t need.

Suppose you have one page full of your social media apps that tend to distract you when you’re using your phone. You can choose to eliminate this page from your Work mode to minimize the distraction. Here’s how:

  1. Go to SettingsFocus → select a mode.
  2. Tap Home Screen and toggle on Custom Pages
  3. Now, tap Choose Pages.
  4. Choose the pages you want to show in that mode and tap Done.
    For instance, I chose just a single page with my Notes, Reminders widget, and a few other apps. When I turn on Work mode, I will not see any other Home Screen pages except the selected one.
Customize iPhone home screen in Focus mode

Other customization options in Focus in iOS 15

Under Home Screen in the Focus Settings, you will see Options, which lets you further customize Focus on iOS 15 with the following choices:

  • Dim Lock Screen: Toggle this on to dim your lock screen when the selected Focus mode is enabled.
  • Delayed Delivery: Enable this to send notifications not on your “Allowed” list directly to Notification Center until the Focus mode is turned off.
  • Hide Notification Badges: Turn this off to hide the notification badges on Home Screen apps.
Other customization options in Focus on iOS 15

How to turn on Focus mode in iOS 15

  1. Open the Control Center on your iPhone.
    • On iPhones with Face ID: Swipe down from the top-right corner.
    • On iPhone with Touch ID: Swipe up from the screen’s bottom. 
  2. Tap Focus and select the mode you want to enable. 

Note: The Do Not Disturb icon is next to Focus. If you tap the crescent moon symbol, it will activate Do Not Disturb.

Enable and use Focus mode on iPhone

Here’s how notifications will look when Focus is enabled:

How notifications will look when Focus is enabled

You can turn off Focus anytime by following the above steps and deselecting Focus or choosing another mode.

Automatically enable Focus with Smart Activation in iOS 15

Smart Activation automates Focus modes on your device. When turned on, it will intelligently enable a specific Focus at relevant times throughout the day based on your location, app usage, and more.

It does this by default, but you can also customize the Smart Activation. For instance, when you’re at home, your phone can automatically activate the Personal Focus mode. Or, when you’re on the Netflix app, it can activate Do Not Disturb.

This has innumerable uses and offers convenience. Here’s how to enable it:

  1.  Go to SettingsFocus → select a specific Focus mode.
  2. Tap Smart Activation and toggle it on.
  3. Tap Done.
  4. To customize, tap the small + icon above Smart Activation.
  5. Choose when you want the Smart Automation to happen according to Time, Location, and Apps you’re using.
What is Smart Activation, and how to enable it

How to delete a Focus mode in iOS 15

  1.  Go to SettingsFocus → select a specific Focus mode.
  2. Scroll all the way down and tap Delete Focus.
  3. To confirm, tap Delete Focus again.
How to delete a Focus mode on iPhone

Now you know how Apple’s new Focus notifications work in iOS 15. I’m pretty impressed by the level of customization that it offers. It makes it so much easier to use your phone and apps just how you want to strike a balance between different aspects of life.

Video: How to use iPhone Focus mode in iOS 15

It’s great for boosting productivity, minimizing distractions, and managing your time better. What do you think of this amazing feature? Let me know in the comments below.

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