Your iPhone can be made more efficient with a few simple automations that show relevant information and hide distractions, depending on what you’re doing. Automating your iPhone can help you be more productive at work, sleep better at night, or display helpful reminders at the best possible time.
Set focus modes first
Many automations depend on the focus modes that Apple added to iOS 15 in 2021. Apple further expanded these focus modes in the iOS 16 update. The first thing you should do is spend some time setting up the focus modes that are relevant. for you.
RELATED: What’s new in iOS 16 for iPhone
Head to Settings > Focus to get started. If you previously automated Do Not Disturb mode, you will already have a focus mode enabled.
You can add more by using the plus “+” icon in the top right corner of the screen or by tapping the “Set” button that appears next to default options like Work and Sleep.
In addition to choosing from Apple’s suggestions, you can choose Custom to set an entirely new focus mode. Give it a name, choose an icon, and hit “Next,” followed by the “Customize Focus” button to get started.
By default, focus modes mute non-urgent notifications. You can also choose which contacts and apps you’d like to receive or mute notifications from.
For example, you can choose important contacts, so you never miss a notification from family and friends while burying distractions like Facebook requests or mobile game notifications.
You can use the “Options” button to show silent notifications on your lock screen, which means they will be delivered silently (they will only appear when you check your device, but they won’t buzz or pop up).
You can also dim the lock screen, ideal for “Sleep” focus mode or anytime you want a darker look.
Link focus modes with lock screens and more
You now have the ability to link the Apple Watch lock screen, home screen, and watch face to a focus mode. You’ll find these options in the Settings > Focus menu (under settings for a specific focus mode).
Press “Choose,” then choose from your available options.
For lock screens, you can create new ones by long pressing on the lock screen and tapping on the plus “+” button. Here you can add widgets to your lock screen or choose a simple wallpaper-only layout. You can display widgets relevant to your current activity, such as weather information or calendar appointments.
You can do the same for your home screen. Take some time to set up app-specific pages on your home screen, then choose one you’d like to see when your chosen focus mode is enabled.
Some Focus modes (like Work) let you “Create a new page,” which suggests apps and widgets based on activity, though this only works for Apple’s presets.
Lastly, choose an Apple Watch face. This uses your Apple Watch gallery, so if you have specific things you’d like to see, make sure you’ve created the watch face first.
Program your focus modes
For focus modes to be really useful, they need to be fully automated. You can turn them on and off manually, but it’s much better if you configure them to turn on and off based on relevant criteria.
Under “Auto on” in the Settings > Focus menu (in the settings for a specific focus mode), you’ll have an option to enable Smart Wake.
Siri learns about your habits based on your activity, giving Siri a chance to put what she knows to good use. Your iPhone will use location, time of day, and the types of apps you’re using to make a call about which focus mode to turn on.
If you don’t trust Siri to get it right, or if you’ve had a bad experience with the assistant’s predictions, you can tap the “Add Schedule” button to set your criteria.
For example, you can set your focus mode to come on during work hours or late at night when you’re trying to get some rest. You can also set the focus mode to activate once you arrive at certain places, like your home or the gym.
Sync focus modes between devices
You can use the same focus modes across devices, including your iPad and Mac. All you need to do is check the “Share across devices” option in Settings > Focus on your iPhone to see the same focus modes that appear on your other devices. .
Use focus filters to hide distractions
Finally, Focus filters take the entire Focus system to the next level. These allow you to filter out information that is not relevant to the current focus mode. This is arguably most useful when you want to focus, like when your work or study focus modes are on.
Hit the “Add Filter” button in a focus mode’s settings under Settings > Focus to see its various options. For example, when using the Messages filter, you can choose to only view conversations from specific contacts.
You’ll also find third-party apps here, which offer similar options. Lastly, there are some system settings such as the option to use dark mode (great for night focus modes) and low power mode.
Set location-based reminders and more
Focus modes aren’t the be all and end of iPhone automation. For example, the Reminders app also has useful features. One of these features is the ability to receive reminders based on your location.
To do this, touch a reminder to edit it. Then tap the “i” button to see additional options. You can then toggle “Location” and choose a location where you’d like to see the reminder on your iPhone’s lock screen. This works great for getting reminders for items on your shopping list once you get to the store or for muting text messages while driving.
You can also tag “When sending messages” to get the reminder when you send a message to a specific contact. This is useful if you want to remind someone of something without disturbing them until they are already chatting.
Use shortcuts to set up more complex automations
There’s a whole world of automations to discover in the Shortcuts app. Through shortcuts, you can set up automations that help you save battery power, reduce distractions, or trigger actions when you launch specific apps.
Better yet, you can now also hide the annoying “Running your automation” notification.