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(Pocket-lint) - Apple announced a whole host of new features coming to iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch when it launches its latest software builds later this year, including something called Focus. 

Here is everything you need to know about Focus, including what it is, how it works and when you will be able to use it.

What is Apple's Focus feature on iPhone, iPad, Watch and Mac?

Apple's Focus is a feature designed to help you automatically filter notifications and apps on your Apple devices based on your status, in order to help you "find Focus" - hence the name.

The idea is to reduce distractions and it works across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. You can set your device to a certain Focus, such as Personal, Work, Exercising, Gaming or Sleep, and your device will automatically hide distractions, signal to friends that you are not available and filter notifications.

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How does Apple's Focus feature work?

The Apple Focus feature works by using on-device intelligence to suggest a Focus - like Working - based on a user's context, such as working hours for example. The feature will then suggest people and apps that are allowed to notify you when a Focus has been set.

You'll also be able to create a custom Focus though, and for each Focus, you'll be able to create Home Screen pages with apps and widgets that apply to the respective Focus you have chosen and only display relevant apps to reduce temptation.

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When a Focus is blocking notifications, Messages will display the status to users who contact you, showing that you are unavailable at the moment. Contacts will be able to reply with urgent if they want a message to get through though, similar to how Do Not Disturb when Driving kicks in.

Once a Focus is set on one of your Apple devices, it will be set across all your Apple devices.

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How to set up the Apple Focus feature

To set up Focus on your iPhone and iPad, follow the steps below: 

  1. Make sure your device is running iOS 15 or iPadOS 15.
  2. Launch Control Centre on your device.
  3. You'll see the Focus tile by default when you upgrade to iOS 15/iPad OS 15.
  4. Long press and hold to bring up the Focus menu.
  5. Tap on a Focus option - Do Not Disturb, Sleep, Personal or Work - to get started. Sleep and Do Not Disturb have settings like scheduling options, while Personal and Work have more customisation.
  6. You can also tap on Create a New Focus at the top to create your own, such as Gaming or Exercise.
  7. Follow the on screen instructions.
  8. You can also access the Focus feature through Settings.
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The on screen instructions include choosing which contacts you want notifications from when the Focus is turned on, which apps you want notifications from and choosing whether you want time sensitive notifications to come through.

A summary screen then appears for that particular Focus, where you can further customise things, such as your Home Screen, toggling on or off a dimmed lock screen, toggling on or off sharing your Focus Status, and turning on or off Smart Activation.

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To set up Focus on your Mac, follow the steps below:

  1. Make sure your Mac is running macOS 15.
  2. Launch the Control Centre (two-bar icon next to the search icon in the top right corner of your display).
  3. You'll see the Focus tile by default when you upgrade to macOS 15.
  4. Tap on a Focus option.
  5. Choose Focus Preferences to allow you to customise your Focus a little.
  6. Focus Preferences can also be accessed via Notifications in System Preferences, accessed via the Apple menu in the top left.

When will the Focus feature be available?

Focus is part of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and macOS 12 - due out in the "fall". We'd expect this to be sometime in September 2021, so you should be able to use Focus at some point towards the end of the year on your iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.

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If you want to try it out before then, you can install the public betas of the software. Read our separate feature on how to install iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. We also have one for how to install watchOS 8.

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Want to know more?

You can read our iOS 15 feature, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 features for more about the features coming to iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch later this year.

We also have a feature on macOS

Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 15 June 2021.