News, Culture & Society

Android launches ‘Focus Mode’ that helps users avoid constantly checking social media and other apps

Google launches ‘Focus Mode’ on Android that helps users avoid incessantly checking social media by turning off apps’ notifications

  • Android’s new Focus Mode gives users built-in control over app notifications
  • The feature is designed to limit the use of apps selected by users
  • By toggling the feature on users can silence selected apps
  • Focus Mode is meant to apply to social media and work apps like Slack 

Google’s new wellness feature called ‘Focus Mode’ wants to help users avoid the scourge of distracting push notifications. 

Focus Mode, now available for users with Android 10 or Android Pie, allows users to take advantage of several tools that encourage them to engage in healthier habits with their mobile device.

Among them is an app-timer that limits the amount of time one can spend on any given app and a ‘wind-down’ mode that helps set a schedule for putting one’s phone down before bed.

The tool targets things like social media but also applies to work apps like Slack and Gmail that may pester users with notifications

Focus Mode (pictured above) is designed to help users stay away from distracting apps and disconnect from certain aspects of their phone

One of Focus’ key capabilities, however, is the ability to pause apps en masse that may distract them.  

Users on Android 10 or Pie can now upon up Focus and choose the most distracting apps they wish to ‘pause.’ Once paused, users won’t be distracted by incoming alerts.

Focus can be turned on through the device settings menu by selecting ‘Digital Wellbeing & parental controls’ and then navigating to ‘Focus mode.’

Once there, users can manually select the apps they wish to control with the feature which allows them to customize Focus Mode based on their preference.

A 'take a break' feature will allow users to briefly disengage Focus Mode and access the restricted apps

A ‘take a break’ feature will allow users to briefly disengage Focus Mode and access the restricted apps

For example, someone looking to use Focus Mode to unplug from work can list career-related apps like Gmail and Slack and then toggle them off in one fell swoop when they check out.

Even more granular time and date features allow users to automatically switch Focus Mode on and off at certain hours and days of the week so they don’t have to always manually engage the feature. 

Unlike other digital well-being apps, Focus Mode doesn’t completely lock users out of apps, meaning it still requires some degree of willpower from anyone using it.

After a beta period, Android has even opted to include a feature that allows users to to take a break from the mode for predetermined periods of time – between 5 and 30 minutes.

Ultimately, tools like Focus Mode and other other app-limiting features may help to better users’ mental health, especially that of younger users.

Overuse of social media in particular has been linked through multiple studies to an increase in anxiety and depression in teens.