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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 sync Focus Mode with Opal to completely disable certain apps from your phone.

What is Focus Mode?

With iOS 16 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".

What are Focus Filters?

Focus Filters are an added functionality on top of each Focus Mode you have enabled on your device.  They allow you to customize functionality on specific Apple apps, including:

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

In addition, Apple opened Focus Filters to developers so that third party apps can support customizations based on Focus Filters. Given that this technology is fairly new, options may be limited. You will see 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, take these steps:

  • Open your device Settings
  • Scroll down and tap "Focus"
  • Select the Focus you want to add a Filter to
  • Scroll down to "Focus Filters", and tap "Add Filter"

There you will see the available options, based on the apps you have downloaded on your device. You can read more about how to set up a Focus here.

How to Create an Opal Focus Filter

An Opal specific Focus Filter allows you to completely disable apps on 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 enabled and disabled. Here's how to set this up:

  • Open your device Settings
  • Scroll down and select "Focus"
  • Select your "Work" Focus
  • Scroll down to the Focus Filters and tap "Add Filter"
  • 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, your Session will begin.

Please note that this sync is one-directional from Focus Filters → Opal. This means that when you end the Focus, Opal will also end. If you end the Opal Session within the app, the Focus will not turn off.

If you'd like to go one step further, you can sync Opal Sessions to actions on your iPhone and iPad using Shortcut Automations. There's more info on that here.

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