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How to block apps with iPhone Focus Mode

Apple’s Focus Mode allow you to eliminate distractions in the form of notifications, messages, and phone calls. With the introduction of Focus Filters in iOS 16, you can go a step further and actually edit the appearance and functionality of some of your apps. Here is how you can go two steps further by syncing Focus Mode with Opal to completely disable certain apps from your phone.

Here is a demo of how to block apps with iPhone Focus Mode and Focus Filters together with Opal:

What is Focus Mode?

With iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 or later, Focus lets you remove notifications and customize your home screen appearance. You can set Focus settings and pick when you want to receive notifications, while letting other people and apps know when you’re busy. You can find Focus Mode on your iPhone or iPad's Settings, then hit 'Focus'.

Use Focus on your iPhone or iPad - Apple Support

What are Focus Filters?

First, let’s take a look at Focus Filters on iOS.

Focus Filters are added functionality on top of each Focus Mode you have enabled on your device.  Out of the box, focus filters let you customize functionality on certain Apple System apps:

  • Hiding work calendars when you are spending time with family
  • Hiding friend’s messages when you are focusing at work

In addition, Apple opened Focus Filters to developers so 3rd party apps can support customizations based on Focus Filters. However, this technology is fairly new, so options may be limited. You will see all your app’s available Focus Filters listed when setting them up in your Focus Mode settings.

How do I set up Focus Filters?

To set up a Focus Filter, open the Settings app, navigate to “Focus”, and then select a Focus you want to add a Filter on. Then, scroll down to Focus Filters, and tap “Add Filter”.

Here you will see all the options made available to you, based on the apps you have downloaded on your device.

Configuring a specific filter is unique depending on the desired filter, so we won’t go into it more in depth here, but you can read more here about setting up Focus Filters on Apple System apps.

Read more about how to Set up a Focus on Apple's website

How to Create an Opal Focus Filter

Let’s now talk about the Opal Focus Filter specifically. This will allow you to take your Focus to the next level by completely disabling apps from your device, while in a Focus mode. When you add an Opal Focus Filter to a focus mode, when that Focus is enabled, an Opal session will start automatically! (And end automatically when the Focus is disabled) Let’s take a look at how to implement this.

Note: Opal’s Focus Filter (As with any Focus Filter) can work for any Focus Mode, but for the sake of this guide, we will use “Work”.

1. Select a Focus

As described above, start by navigating to Settings → Focus → and select a Focus, in our case “Work”.

2. Add Filter

Then scroll down to the “Focus Filters” section and tap “Add Filter”

3. Choose App Group to block

Select Opal, and choose the group of apps you want to block while this Focus is enabled.

Here is how to set up an App Group in Opal.

Once created, you will see the new Focus Filter in the Focus settings.

That’s it! Now when the “Work” focus is enabled, an Opal session will begin.

Please note: this sync is one-directional

Note that this sync is one-directional; from Focus Filters → Opal. Meaning when you end the Focus, Opal will also end, but if you end the Opal session directly, the Focus will not turn off.

Going further: Sync Opal with Shortcut Automations

To go further, you can also sync Opal sessions to many actions on your iPhone and iPad using Shortcut Automations - for example, to Start blocking apps with Opal when you arrive at your office. Read more on How do I install Shortcut Automations?

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