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I Tried iOS 15 Beta and It Eased My Notification Anxiety, Here's How

Download it when it's stable, or now if you can't wait.
by Joel Guinto
Aug 17, 2021
Photo/s: Apple.com
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I've never hated an app as much as I do Microsoft Teams. It has notifications for everything and it takes a lot of drilling down in your device settings to mute it. And if you do mute it, you will surely miss out on a message from your boss.

What makes it worse, I'm a compulsive phone-checker. I need to know who's saying what at what time. I was okay with "Do Not Disturb" with overrides until Apple put iOS 15 on public meta. I waited a few weeks to see if there are serious bugs, absent the threat of bricking my iPhone, I downlodaded and installed and here's how it went:

Focus Mode will save your sanity

At late afternoon crunch time in my past newsroom, I'd disconnect the cable on my desk phone to screen calls that could have been a simple message or an email. I knew that time that boss with powerful initials would always call me on my office cell, not the landline. That's how I focused.

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Focus Mode on iOS 15 has three options, the vanilla "Do Not DIsturb" from versions past, Night for when you're sleeping and my favorite -- Personal -- which you can customize.

I used Personal Mode to select which people in my address book can call me or send me notifications across apps, and which apps can display notifications on my lock screen when I swipe down.

What makes it different from Do Not Disturb? First, there's no fear of missing out. Notifications from the apps you selected appear along with a separate notification bubble that tells you which apps have notifications, too. That bubble won't expand unless you tap it.

Yes, you can do that in Android but in true Apple style, you don't need to get lost in the settings just to tweak it.

I know Teams has notifications, but I can control when it displays in full versus seeing it all at once with no warning. When I got vaccinated for COVID, I glanced at the needle before the nurse buried it in my arm. I knew when it was coming. For me, that's control.

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I also know that shopping apps have spam or vouchers for me but I don't see them unless I'm on break.

Time to get minimalist with alerts

Notifications are designed to get your eyes glued on your device for as long as possible. They're built for you to use apps even when you don't need to. Even if it can wait.

Before smartphones, GSM phones and Blackberry's beeping could only mean someone from work or family calling. You either pick up or hang up with a sorry text promising to call back later. Simple.

Now, there's all kinds of alerts for hearts, ha-has and virtual hugs given, which are all nice, but can get overwhelming. And noisy.

Speaking for myself, I disdain alerts on my device because the notifications also appear on my laptop, which I'm glued to the whole day. Who needs two alerts for that one tag. It may work for some, but not for me, the compulsive checker.

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What I want in my notifications are things that spark joy -- my dogs eating turon on Turon Tuesdays or flexing their vitamins after a visit to the vet, photos of my nephew who loves Baby Shark and who we would want to be a marine biologist one day, random recommendations from TikTok from last night's mindless scroll, my favorite creators going live.

One warning though about installing beta software, they can be buggy so do it at your own risk. In my case, it's a risk worth taking.

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What else is new on iOS 15?

Customary since 2017, new Memojis. The weather widget also appears more dynamic with animations. 

What's exciting are the features that are built for physical distancing such as watching videos at the same time on multiple devices via Shareplay. No need to sync the time you and your virtual date press the play button.

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