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This Simple iPhone Hack Makes Hiking So Much Better

If you have an iPhone, you may be familiar with the Do Not Disturb setting, which silences notifications without having to put your phone on airplane mode. But did you know you can customize your own “focus” setting so that certain notifications make it through? 

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This summer, I created a “hiking” focus mode on my iPhone. Instead of turning off all of my notifications, I allow alerts from weather, travel, and navigation apps. For example, I often hike between towns on the England Coast Path and occasionally stay in Airbnbs along the way, so I would want to get notifications from my host if there’s been an issue before checking in. Similarly, I appreciate the weather app’s alerts about incoming rain. 

How to Activate ‘Hiking Mode’

You can customize your own “hiking mode” however you’d like, including allowing notifications only from certain contacts (say, the friends you’re hiking with). 

To do this on an iPhone, go to Settings and scroll down to (or search for) Focus. In the top right corner, press the “+” symbol to create a new focus mode. You can start from scratch or you can customize one of Apple’s suggested focus modes, such as Fitness or Mindfulness. 

Image by Marco Bottigelli

Once you’ve named the new focus mode and chosen a color scheme and icon for it, you can manually add in people whose notifications you don’t want to silence, plus the apps that are allowed to contact you when it’s on. 

You can also choose a different home screen to be visible during this mode. So, for instance, if you have all of your navigation and weather apps on their own screen and all your distractions (social media, email, text messages, etc.) on another screen, you can choose to see the necessary screen and avoid seeing all of those red notification badges. (You can also turn off all badge notifications.) 

I find that a hiking-specific focus mode helps me avoid screen time, because I know the notifications I get are relevant to my hike, so I’m not checking my phone just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. It’s worth playing around with the settings to see what works best for you. 

If you’re heading outdoors to spend time outdoors and not checking your phone, give this simple iPhone hack a try to increase the quality of your next hike.

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