How to Set App Time Limits and Block Apps on Android

Focus Mode lock in an app on an Android phone.
Khamosh Pathak

Spending way too much time on your Android device? Use a digital wellbeing app to track your app usage and set app limits. Want some peace of mind? Block specific apps for a bit with Focus mode.

How to Set An App Timer in Android 9 and Higher

Digital Wellbeing is Google’s screen time management feature. It’s available on Google Pixel phones, Android One devices (that run Android 9 Pie and higher), and a limited number of other phones. After you download the Digital Wellbeing app on your device, it shows up as a Settings item.

The Digital Wellbeing app monitors how much time you spend on your phone. It tells you how many times you’ve picked up your phone, how much time you’ve spent in a specific app, and how many notifications you’ve received today.

You can use this information to make decisions about how much time you spend on your smartphone. The app also gives you tools, like App Timer, to curb your usage.

With App Timer, you can restrict how much time you can spend in an app. For example, you can set it up so you only use YouTube 30 minutes per day.

To do this, either swipe down on the notification shade, and then tap the gear icon to open Settings (or open it from the app drawer). Next, tap “Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls.”

Tap "Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls" in Settings.

In the Dashboard, scroll down to the YouTube app and tap the hourglass icon next to it.

Tap the hourglass icon next to the app.

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How to Create Automations on an iPhone or iPad

The "Running Your Automation" shortcuts notification on an iPhone.
Khamosh Pathak

Apple’s Shortcuts app has been integrated directly into iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. After years of consistent improvements, you can now create trigger-free, notification-based automations on your iPhone and iPad.

How Automations Work on iPhone and iPad

Apple introduced the Shortcuts app in iOS 12. Before that, the app was sold on the App Store as Workflow.

You can ask Siri to initiate a shortcut (a predefined set of actions) or press a button on your iPhone or iPad to do it. Now, a shortcut can fire off automatically based on given parameters. It can even happen in the background and use certain external triggers, like NFC. The Shortcuts Automations feature is available on devices that run iOS 13.1 or iPadOS 13.1 and above.

However, not all shortcut automations are automatic.

By default, the automation shows a notification in which you can trigger the shortcut after you tap “Run.” Some shortcuts based on direct physical manipulation with the iPhone or iPad do run automatically (more on this below).

RELATED: What Are iPhone Shortcuts and How Do I Use Them?

How to Create an Event Automation on iPhone or iPad

You can create two kinds of Automations on your iPhone or iPad: Personal and Home. Personal automations are related to your iOS and iPadOS device. The Home automations are related to your HomeKit devices.

In this article, we focus on the Personal automations on your iPhone and iPad. Let’s take a look at the actions you can trigger.

Events

  • Time of Day: You can trigger this at any time of day, at sunrise, or sunset.
  • Alarm: This shortcut runs when an alarm is stopped or snoozed.
  • Apple Watch Workouts: This can be triggered when a workout on your Apple Watch starts, pauses, or ends.

Travel

  • Arrive: A location-based trigger that activates when you arrive at a certain location.
  • Leave: A trigger for when you leave a certain location.
  • Before I Commute: This action tries to predict when you usually leave for work or home and triggers the shortcut at the given time, or up to an hour before you leave.
  • CarPlay: A shortcut is triggered when you connect or disconnect from CarPlay.

Settings

  • Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, BluetoothDo Not DisturbLow Power Mode: This shortcut triggers when you turn these settings on or off.
  • NFC: With this trigger, you can tap your iPhone on an NFC sticker and run a shortcut. Modern iPhones (iPhone XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max) can run NFC shortcuts in the background.
  • Open App: This trigger runs a shortcut when you open any app.

Let’s walk through an example. Say you want to create a shortcut that plays soothing music when you open the Twitter app. Open the Shortcuts app, and then tap “Automation” in the bottom toolbar.

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How to Mute Mail Threads on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

iOS 13 Mail app Share Sheet with Mute button
Khamosh Pathak

There’s no way to leave email conversations if someone accidentally hits the “Reply All” button. What you can do is mute the conversation on your end to disable notifications. Here’s how to mute threads on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac using the Mail app.

How to Mute Mail Threads on iPhone and iPad

To mute a thread on an iPhone or iPad, you need to be running iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 and higher.

There are two ways to do this. The first works without even opening the email. You can also mute a message from the reply menu.

If you’re in the Inbox, swipe left on an email and select the “More” option.

Swipe left and tap on the More button

From the popup, tap on the “Mute” button.

Tap on the Mute button

The email will now have a small “Bell” icon to tell you that the thread has been muted.

Check the Mute symbol on muted threads

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How to Manage Your iTunes Store and App Store Password Preferences

Password Settings screen for iTunes shown on iPhone
Khamosh Pathak

Apple makes it easy to download an app or to rent a movie on your iPhone or iPad. But what if you want to change the default password behavior for App Store and iTunes Store? Here’s how to manage your password preferences.

Turn off Touch ID and Face ID for App Store and iTunes Store

If you’re using any modern iPhone with Touch ID or Face ID, you won’t be prompted to set your password preference in the App Store app. Touch ID and Face ID will override your previous preferences (if any).

As such, if you don’t want to be prompted for authentication for buying apps, you’ll still get a Touch ID or Face ID prompt. The only way to access those password management settings is to first disable Touch ID or Face ID authentication for the App Store and iTunes Store.

To do this, open the “Settings” app and go to the “Face ID & Passcode” or “Touch ID & Passcode” section, depending on your device.

Click on Face ID and Passcode section from Settings

From the next screen, enter your lockscreen passcode to authenticate.

Enter Your Passcode

Here, tap on the toggle next to “iTunes & App Store” to disable Face ID or Touch ID authentication for App Store and iTunes Store.

Tap on toggle next to iTunes and App Store

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How to Add and Customize Widgets on the iPad Home Screen

iPad Pro showing Today View widgets on Home screen
Khamosh Pathak

iPadOS 13 dramatically improves the productivity of the iPad and it starts with the home screen. You can now pin the Today View widgets to the left column on the tablet’s home screen, making it much easier to access your favorite shortcuts.

How to Access Today View in iPadOS 13

The Today View used to show up as its own page on the iPad. In iPadOS 13, it shows up as a column on the left edge of the iPad’s screen. Just swipe right anywhere on the left-most home screen to reveal the widgets panel.

Widgets shown on iPad Pro Home screen in landscape view

If you’re in the landscape mode, the icon grid will shrink to take up space next to the Today View panel. Swipe left to hide the panel. If you’re in portrait mode, swiping right on the home screen will bring up the Today View panel on top of the home screen (the icons will be blurred).

Widgets shown on iPad Pro Home screen in portrait view

How to Add Widgets to Today View

If you’re new to using the Today View, you’ll first need to add widgets to this screen. Scroll to the bottom of the Today View section and tap on “Edit.”

Tap on Edit button at the bottom of widgets section

You’ll now see a list of all enabled widgets. They’ll have a “Minus” icon on the left edge and a “Handle” icon on the right edge. You can tap on the “Minus” button and then tap on “Remove” to remove the existing widget from the Today View.

Tap on Minus button and then tap on Remove

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