Focus on your day: eliminating spam calls on iOS

Before iOS 15, I had to keep my phone switched to silent, Do Not Disturb enabled, and a few apps to block robocalls. When iOS 15 introduced Silence Unknown Callers in Settings for phone and messages, it stopped some of the notifications. Then I discovered how Focus could be used to eliminate unwanted calls and texts. iOS 16 provided more customization. If you enable these settings for at least two weeks or longer, your spam calls will go down considerably. Because notifications for spam texts are hidden, I spend less time looking at them. Spam calls rarely show up in my Recents log. Your mileage may vary. I would also recommend setting up a second burner number for sharing with websites or for work so you don’t have to wonder how someone got a hold of your number.

iOS 16 provides four Focus options out of the box: Sleep (with Health app), Do Not Disturb, Personal, and Work. I’ve made custom focuses for my needs. When I want to override them for special events that I’m attending, I turn on a custom Do Not Disturb focus and when I leave I manually will enable the All Day No Spam focus. To allow people to call you, maintain your Contacts. Create and use groups of contacts to make the most of these settings. Anyone outside of your contacts will not be able to reach you, they will go to voicemail. Set up your Driving focus as you need it. When you’re automating a Focus based on time, you can’t have one end on the same time that you start the next. I found it doesn’t work. Open Settings and then Focus. Enable Share Across Devices at the bottom and after you’ve made the custom focuses, go into Focus Status and turn off sharing for All Day No Spam and any others you don’t want shared. Personally, I’ve turned this option off for all of them otherwise people will text me asking what that automated message means.

Day Focus

  • Name: All Day No Spam
  • Icon: Leaf
  • Color: Green
  • People: Allow Notifications From, Put in priority people that you want notifications from, Allow Calls From Contacts Only, Turn off Allow Repeated Calls
  • Apps: Allow Notifications From, Put in priority apps that you want notifications from, Turn on Time Sensitive Notifications
  • Options: Turn on Show On Lock Screen if you want, turn off Dim Lock Screen and Hide Notification Badges
  • Customize Screens as you want
  • Set your schedule, if the time ends in this focus at 7:59 PM, then set the next focus for 8:00 PM.
  • Focus Filters: Add a filter for Appearance and Set to Light

Night Focus

  • Name: Bedtime
  • Icon: Sun setting on horizon
  • Color: Grey
  • People: Allow Notifications From, Only put in the people who can wake you in an emergency (like your family), Allow Calls From Allowed People Only, Turn off Allow Repeated Calls
  • Apps: Allow Notifications From, Don’t put in apps, Turn off Time Sensitive Notifications
  • Options: Turn off Show On Lock Screen, turn on both Dim Lock Screen and Hide Notification Badges
  • Customize Screens to Dark Mode with custom widgets to show on the Lock Screen
  • Set your schedule for your sleep time and buffer in extra time for winding down and getting up, tap into Smart Activation and turn it off.
  • Focus Filters: Add a filter for Appearance and Set to Dark

Settings / Phone

  • Turn on Silence Unknown Callers.

Settings / Messages

  • Turn on Filter Unknown Senders
  • Go into Notifications, then into Customize Notifications at the bottom, and turn off Allow Notifications from Unknown Senders
  • Turn off Send as SMS and make sure iMessage is on. If you’re visiting a public place with an open Wi-Fi network, joining that network can disable your iMessage until you’re back on your cell network. You may need to manually enable it if you have this problem. I recommend not joining public Wi-Fi networks as much as possible. SMS is not end-to-end encrypted and iMessage is encrypted between iPhone users but supposedly not once that data is backed up to iCloud. If you want to always have end-to-end encrypted chats and calls, use the Signal app.

Messages app

  • Tap < Filters in top left and choose Known Senders

How has this worked for you? I welcome your family-friendly comments.

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