Surviving Focus Mode on iOS

Robert Leefmans
Robert Leefmans
Aug 22 2022
Posted in Best Practices

Next level notification settings for the Notifications Summary and Focus modes in iOS

Surviving Focus Mode on iOS

You've probably heard about the Notification Summary feature on iOS 15. As an earlier blog post mentioned, it is a new feature that allows you to see your notifications in one place. With this tool, as a user, you will no longer be interrupted through each individual app to see what's new. However, as a marketer, there are some things to know about this functionality. This post will cover how to stay on top of the users' home screen.

What is Focus Mode and the Notification Summary?

With the introduction of Focus mode in iOS 15, Apple allows you to limit the number of interruptions. The feature includes the ability to set notification, call, and message filters; auto-reply to others when you're not available; plus handy customization options and automation.

It is a great feature for anyone trying to focus on a project or task at hand and who doesn't want to get distracted.

With Focus mode also came a Notification Summary. The Notification Summary is a nicely designed overview that presents you with a summary of Notifications that came in during a Focus Mode at a couple of scheduled times during your day. The iOS user can access this by swiping down from the top or in iOS 16 from the bottom of the screen, where you would expect the Notifications Center to appear.

The summary is an excellent way to get a grasp on what's been happening in your day, especially if you have been away from your phone for a while. It also gives you an easy way to dismiss notifications you don't need them right now (without actually having to open them).

For Apple to know what notifications are allowed in Focus mode and appear in the Notification Summary, the user must set this on per app basis. However, as a sender of the notification, you also have the ability to suggest to the user (and the operating system) how your messages are intended, using Interruption Levels.

Active Notifications

The default notification settings on your iPhone are what's called 'active notifications.' These are the kind of alerts iOS user sees when they haven't dismissed a notification or performed any other actions with it. As a marketer, you can also set the Interruption Level to Active for iOS to suggest when it arrives.

Passive Notifications

You can also give a less important interruption level to your Notifications as they will end up in the user's Notification Summary. By providing a relevance score, a value between 0 and 1, to sort the notifications from your app. The highest score gets featured in the Notification Summary.

Time-Sensitive Notifications

Time-sensitive notifications are those messages that require an immediate attention. They include things like a missed phone call, a meeting reminder, or an alarm clock alert. These kinds of notifications break through your different Focus modes.

You should use time-sensitive notifications only if they're absolutely required for your user's workflow and routine. This level requires an additional entitlement in your app and permission from your users. These messages will break through the Notification Summary and will be delivered right away to the user's lock screen.

But be aware that they can be disabled by users at any time, meaning that failing to provide actual time-sensitive messages will raise the risk of being muted entirely.

What if users missed my important message?

If you want to make sure a notification is seen, be relevant. The more personal it feels, the more likely it will be read. If the user has specific interests and needs, be sure to include information that pertains directly to them.

Nowadays, users are in control of how they consume information on their phones and desktops. With options like Interruption Level and Relevance Score, you have all the tools at your disposal to deliver the message the best you can. And in iOS 16, some more advanced features are coming up, like Filter Criteria that help iOS 16 to determine if it should display the Notification in the current Focus Mode set by the user.

Take your notifications to the next level

We have seen how influential the notification settings are to survive the Notifications Summary and Focus modes in iOS. As you know, notifications are one of the most powerful ways to engage users and influence their behavior.

You can use Notifications to inform users about important updates, send promotional offers, and much more. However, if your notifications are poorly designed or irrelevant, they will only annoy your users and, with the new iOS feature, vanish over time from the lock screen. To avoid this, you must ensure that your app delivers relevant notifications with the right settings. If you have any more questions, as always, feel free to reach out.

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