Plugged In: iPhone feature updates you didn’t know you were thankful for

plugged-in-marquezAs we approach the time of year when we all attempt to put down our phones, pause and reflect upon things for which we are thankful, we often get sidetracked and pick our phones back up. You may not even realize there are a couple of new iPhone features that will help you retrain yourself to spend more time pausing and reflecting.

Do Not Disturb

The Do Not Disturb feature is a classic option for controlling the notifications on your phone to prevent ringing, buzzing and any other noises by simply swiping up and tapping the moon icon to toggle the mode on or off. While this feature is great when heading into the courtroom, a mediation or any meeting, it can cause great frustration when our busy lives cause us to forget to turn the feature back off. The result can be having no indication that someone has been attempting to reach us for an hour because Do Not Disturb was still turned on.

With the newly released iPhone update, the Do Not Disturb feature can be set up to automatically turn itself off at a specific time or location. Rather than just swiping up and tapping the moon icon, you can now hold the moon icon until a menu appears. You will receive options to turn on the Do Not Disturb mode for a variety of options, such as a timer, a change in location or based on a calendar event. The default timer feature is “For 1 hour,” and it will automatically turn off this mode one hour after the mode is enabled. The “Until I leave this location” option will use your phone’s location services to determine when you leave that location, and at that point the Do Not Disturb mode will automatically be turned off, allowing you to receive alerts again. If you have an upcoming calendar appointment on your phone, you will have an option for either “Until the end of this event” or “Until the end of the next event,” depending on whether the event has already begun. Once the end time of that calendar appointment has been reached, the Do Not Disturb mode will automatically turn off. However, if these options are not convenient, you can also just press “Schedule” and set a specific start and stop time. These conveniently located additional options allow you to use the Do Not Disturb mode in a much more effective manner without the stress of having to turn it back off.

Screen Time

This new tracking tool will provide you with detailed information on things such as how often you are picking up your phone, how much time you are spending on specific apps – or even certain categories of apps, such as social networking vs. productivity tools – and how many notifications you have received throughout the day. You can even set limits for yourself as you strive to find your appropriate work-life balance.

From the Settings menu, tap “Screen Time” to see an overview chart displaying how much time you have spent on your phone today in each category. Simply tap the chart to see a more detailed hour-by-hour view of today or a weekly synopsis. As you scroll down, you can see how often you pick up your phone and what window of time has the “Most Pickups.” The final graph displays the total notifications received and which apps they are generated from.

If these statistics cause you to feel a bit uneasy about your habits, there are a couple of built-in Screen Time tools to help you retrain your brain.

The “Always Allowed” button will allow you to select certain programs, such as Phone, Messages and Maps, that will always be enabled even during restriction periods you may set. Once selections have been made, there are two interesting features you may want to check out.

Tap the “Downtime” button to set start and stop times for a temporary suspension of apps on your phone. During this “downtime,” all apps except those “always allowed” will be darkened in appearance and, upon tapping them, a “time limit” screen will appear. While you can simply press “Ignore Limit” and move through the barrier, it is a good acknowledgment to our brains that we may need a little break from our phones.

Tap the “App Limits” button to add a limit to a specific category so that you cannot exceed a certain amount of time each day in that area. For example, if you want to cut down on your social networking time, simply click “Add Limit,” tap that category in the list and choose “Add,” then enter the maximum amount of time per day that you want to allow yourself. A five-minute warning will appear before the limit is enacted to remind you of the limit, then once the time limit has been reached, the same “time limit” screen mentioned above will appear.

While technology has helped us advance in many areas, there is no substitute for the face-to-face time spent with family, friends and co-workers. So as the year winds down and events stack up, let your phone aid you in putting it down while you take in the sights, smells and smiles of the world around you.•

Deanna Marquez[email protected] — is a co-owner of the Indianapolis-based legal technology company Modern Information Solutions, LLC. Areas of service include traditional IT services, software training and litigation support including trial presentation services. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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