Stop your phone addiction. This new Google tool can help

Google's new Focus Mode keeps you from becoming your own worst enemy by quieting distracting apps.

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Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok. It's easy to be distracted by the next shiny update or amusement, instead of responding to emails, banking, reading the news or doing whatever it is you should be doing on your phone. You need Google's newly launched tool called Focus Mode, which was designed to combat distracting apps on your Android device.

Originally announced last May at Google's annual I/O conference, Focus Mode pauses your most distracting apps for as long as you need with a timer that keeps you from using them for set increments. When the time's up, Google will unpause the app.

Google believes that app timers, like those in Focus Mode, help people keep from overusing apps more than 90% of the time. You can choose which apps you'd like to pause, like Facebook and Instagram, which tend to interrupt you with notifications. But you can also keep some messaging apps open for emergencies. 


Focus Mode is located in the Digital Wellbeing app.

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Focus Mode is Google's latest feature to promote digital health, along with digital wellbeing features like Wind Down mode, which turns the screen to grayscale, designed to help you get sleepy and less interested in looking at your screen at night. Another feature filters out the blue light that's believed to disrupt sleep patterns and keep you awake longer. 

Apple's iPhones contain similar features focused on helping you detox from phone overuse, which experts believe can cause physical stress from overuse and a mental dependence on devices that keep people from engaging fully in the physical world.

Focus Mode is rolling out to all devices that have Digital Wellbeing and parental control settings, including new phones launching with Android 9 and Android 10.

How to use Focus Mode for Android

1. Open your Digital Wellbeing app.

2. On the dashboard, select Focus Mode.

3. Tap on the box to the right of each app that you want to disable. You may have to select Show all apps if they're not visible.

4. Tap Turn on now.

5. You'll notice that all of your paused apps are grayed out. If you try to open the app, a box will open that says Focus Mode is on. You can either select Settings to make changes or tap OK to leave the app disabled.

6. When you're ready to stop pausing your apps, go back into the Focus Mode settings and tap Turn off now.

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Use Quick Settings to turn Focus Mode on

1. If you're looking for a quicker way to turn Focus Mode on, open your Quick Settings menu.

2. Tap on Focus Mode. This will pause any apps you've got selected in your settings.

3. To make changes to the apps you have paused, you'll have to go into the Digital Wellbeing app.

4. That's it! Now you can concentrate on the task at hand, rather than looking down at your phone each time you get a notification.

Ready for more Android 10 tips? Here's the complete guide to Android 10's new gesture navigation. Oh, and here's how you'll use Android 10.

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Originally published earlier this year. Updated to include it's now out of beta testing.