Apple’s new “Focus” productivity tool for iPhones and iPads is intended to limit distractions by letting you specify when you want to turn off notifications from certain apps and contacts. The problem is it’s not especially intuitive and, since its arrival, people are missing important notifications.
Since Apple began rolling out the feature to iPhone users in September, many people have missed work calls, home repair visits, and doctor appointments. Social media is full of confused people wondering why they weren’t notified of calls and why it seems as though everyone’s messages are silenced.
In an effort to help people avoid distractions, Apple has created new ones for some.
The feature was introduced as part of Apple’s new operating system last fall, though it has taken months for it to roll out widely to most iPhone users. And how it rolled out is part of the problem. When you did finally update your iOS software — or you remembered to leave your phone plugged in at night so it could automatically update — all you saw was a quick notification telling you that the tool existed and offering to show you what it does. That’s the type of notification that busy, harried people — precisely those who might need the feature in the first place — quickly swipe out of the way and plan to get to later, someday. When some of them finally did remember to use the feature, they might not completely understand what it does…
Mere mortals don’t stand much of a chance, especially since the setup is lengthy and nonintuitive.
That’s because turning on Focus turns off all your notifications from people and apps you don’t specifically add, rather than just the specific people and apps [from which] you’d like to mute notifications… How could you anticipate that you’d want to add, say, your exterminator as a contact you’d want to get through to you even while your Focus mode is on? Or maybe you didn’t realize putting on “do not disturb” also meant shutting off something as important as calendar notifications. Finally, by default, the feature tells others you’ve silenced notifications — an announcement not everyone would assume you’re signed up for.
MacDailyNews Take: So, yes, Focus is unfocused, currently. It should be labeled a “beta” feature since we are all beta testers of it now and it’s failing to help users more than it’s helping in many cases.
We understand what Apple’s shooting for here, but it’s too much work for average users to set up and Apple has failed to explain what the heck is going on, so that average users aren’t missing important notifications when they think they’re “focusing.”
If Focus were labeled “beta,” the teething phase would be more palatable. Apple is on the right road here, but the company is a long way from having the “Focus” feature ready for the average user.
More info, via Apple Support, about how to use Focus on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch here.
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