With the release of iOS 6 today, one of the added features is the "Do Not Disturb" mode.
The "Do Not Disturb" mode is a setting in which you can set up "quiet hours" — or hours in which notifications, alerts, and all other noise makers will remain silent. While you can configure the "quiet hours" in the Notifications section of Settings.app, you can also manually toggle it on.
I tend to think of it as Airplane Mode, Jr.
In my opinion, the "Do Not Disturb" mode is a very valuable feature that should be added to all phones — smartphone or not. There are a few areas in my life where this feature plays a helpful role in.
During the rare moments where my wife and/or I get to go out to a movie, a thought that always runs through my mind is the decision on whether to put my phone on silent or Airplane Mode.
If I put my phone on silent, I will still get vibrating alerts from Twitter, email, texts, phone calls, etc. While that might not sound so bad, having your phone vibrating constantly becomes a little distracting during the movie. Also, if I happen to be wearing non-denim pants and have the front of the phone facing my leg, the LED notifications shining through my pocket can be rather embarrassing.
Now there's also the option of putting into Airplane Mode, but I always have this fear that my daughter's babysitters (her Grandparents) might try to call me during the movie in which I won't get notified until I turn Airplane Mode off.
Late Night Emergencies
I use my iPhone as my alarm clock. While I don't necessarily have a dock with an alarm clock built in, I do have a speaker dock which blasts the iPhone's alarm over the speakers. The problem with that is since the alarm is handled by the iPhone, I need to keep the volume up in order to hear it. By doing that, I also make it fair game for anybody to wake me up in the middle of the night if they decide to text me (the people in my life have all different kinds of sleeping hours).
So my normal routine was to put the phone with Airplane Mode on before I go to bed. However, as I mentioned before, the people in my life work all different kinds of shifts — thus having different sleeping hours. There was an incident where a family member had attempted to call me as he was experiencing car trouble in the middle of the night. I unfortunately did not receive this call as my phone was in Airplane Mode. What made me feel worse was the reason why he called me was because I was the closest family member in town.
So from that point on, I would no longer slept with Airplane Mode on — and I would hope that no notifications wake me during my sleep.
Disturb When Needed
The way the Do Not Disturb mode works, as I mentioned before, gives you quiet hours in which you will not receive any kinds of alerts or notification. But what makes this feature powerful are the two additional settings in the same pane.
Allow Calls From
From here you can change how you get notified of calls. You can either have calls from:
Everyone - all calls alert your phone
No One - no call gets through
Favorites - only calls from the phone numbers you have listed as a favorite in Phone.app will come through
Groups - only calls from a member of the selected contact group will come though
By turning this feature on, any call from the same number within a 3 minute time span will come through. This is an awesome feature for those scenarios in which the other person's cell phone battery died or has no reception and they have resorted to using a payphone or other phone that isn't in your Allow Calls From section.
If a call does come through as permitted by the aforementioned rules, the alerts will respect your silent/audible settings. So by combining the Allow Calls From and Repeated Calls settings, you can really fine tune the way you allow certain calls to come through.
So for me, I no longer have to put my phone on Airplane Mode during the movies or while I sleep — and that brings a lot of comfort in mind.
While there are still some downfalls to this feature, such as remembering to manually turn Do Not Disturb on/off, Apple did a pretty great job at implementing this feature. However, I can imagine Apple implementing geofencing capabilities for certain locations in which you might want to turn on this mode — such as school, movie theatres, libraries, restaurants, custom locations, etc. The technology appears to be there in my eyes, it's just on Apple to see whether this solves a common problem — or just granting my wish.
Time will tell whether that gets implemented or not, either way I will be using the hell out of this new feature.