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iOS 15: iPhone’s new ‘Focus’ feature intended to help users switch off from work

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Apple has revealed new features for the iPhone that aim to make it easier to switch off from work.

The updates are part of iOS 15, the new operating system for the iPhone revealed at its annual WWDC event.

The new tools, named “Focus” are intended to help users reduced distractions that might get in the way of what they are doing.

That includes a special “personal” focus that is aimed at letting people block out other things, such as notifications from work apps, when they are trying to take time for themselves.

The new feature comes amid increasing concern that people are finding it difficult to disconnect from their work’s emails, messaging platforms and other intrustions, especially as many people work from home and so never truly leave the office.

Officials in many countries have been working on legislation aimed at guaranteeing the “right to disconnect”, to ensure that people are able to take time for themselves. In April, for instance, Ireland officially gave people the right to disconnect “from work and have a better work-life balance”.

Apple’s new iPhone features appeare to be aimed at promoting similar behaviours.

The new tool is focused around a series of modes, named “focuses” by Apple, which can be customised and switched between easily.

Users can modify the “personal” focus so that it switches on outside of work hours, for instance, and Apple says the new software will try and spot those patterns and encourage them.

It will also automatically group together apps that are might be included or excluded in any given focus. Users will be able to turn off notifications from office apps as well as remove them from the home screen, for instance.

The “personal” mode is joined by a “work” focus that operates in the opposite way, allowing people to block out other distractions and focuse on apps for the office. There are also “sleeping” and “driving” modes, and the option to create new ones, such as a setting for the gym.

If a user has the focus turned on so that it is blocking notifications, other users will receive a notice in their message conversation, informing them that the person is busy or away and might not reply straight away.

The focus modes will also sync between various Apple devices, so that turning it on using the phone will also mean that notifications are snoozed on a Mac, for instance.

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