The problem with Focus modes

With iOS 16’s launch, I decided I could make a go of useful Focus modes. Then I discovered something. All Focus modes are not created equal.

One week in six I am on call 24x7 and so I wanted to set up a Focus mode for this for during the nights. I chose the relevant settings, including a nice dark wallpaper with deep red clock etc. Then I turned it on and turned out the light and… got repeatedly blinded by my Apple Watch that I wear for sleep tracking.

The Watch only goes to sleep in the Sleep Focus. So the primary reason I had for a Focus mode is a waste of time because I cannot have two different Sleep modes. I imagine others might want different Sleep modes when traveling or for other reasons. It strikes me as a silly limitation — all it needs is a switch to sleep the watch screen.


I think you can set theatre mode with focus automations? Maybe this will help?

in the automation: Apps > Watch > Set Theater Mode


Setup a basic watch face with a very dim screen and switch to that as the Watch face for that focus mode

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Is there a way to set the time to a dark color? I have had a dark red Modular face for years, but with this watch update, it changed the time to white and that makes the face too bright for my purpose.

This is the correct answer. In the Shortcuts app, create an automation that sets up theatre mode on the watch when a focus mode is triggered. I use this same thing for a movie time automation I run that dims the lights in our home theatre.

Thanks for the suggestions, I will give the Theatre Mode a try, but it seems like such a hack.

I have for many years wished Apple would stop concentrating on making device screens brighter and in fact allow them to go dimmer. If you open your eyes after sleeping and are faced with an Apple Watch or iPhone screen on its lowest setting, it is like high beam headlamps.

Yeah, I would love it if the iPhone could go dimmer in particular. I get why they don’t do it (logical problems with colour luminance on a lower-than-standard brightness scale), but it’d be nice if they did. You can lower the white point, but that doesn’t feel quite right.

I seem to recall from the Apple Watch Ultra presentation that it has a red / black night time watch face. Perhaps they’re trying to upsell everybody by blinding them…

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They’ve changed all the colours across just about every complication in watchOS 9 too. It wasn’t obvious to me from screenshots, but it generally feels like a downgrade. I’m getting used to it, but I really don’t think changes like this should be made so wantonly on a device used by millions of people as part of their personal style all day every day.