Focus Assist, previously known as Quiet Hours, is a feature that Microsoft first announced for the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, technically allowing the operating system to automatically silence notifications whenever users don’t need to be distracted.
The purpose of Focus Assist is to kick in whenever it’s needed, despite users being allowed to configure a series of options in the Settings app to define rules and app that will be switched to silent mode.
Focus Assist thus blocks any other distraction in Windows 10, letting you complete your presentation or play games without being interrupted by notifications.
In the upcoming Windows 10 19H1, Focus Assist evolves with new features, and just like before, Microsoft is trying to make the whole thing run as seamlessly as possible with reduced user interaction.
Windows 10 19H1 improvements
First and foremost, the biggest update that Focus Assist gets in Windows 10 19H1 is support for full-screen activities. This means that notifications would be switched to silent whenever you run something in full screen, regardless of the type of activity.
For example, you can play games, watch movies, or work on a document in full screen, as soon as the new option is enabled, Focus Assist automatically reduces all the other distractions to make sure you can continue your activity without being interrupted.
This feature is currently available in Windows 10 build 18277 and it can be configured from the following location:
Settings > System > Focus Assist
It’s called When I’m using an app in full screen mode and, by default, it’s not enabled. Just like the rest of the filters, you can configure Focus Assist to kick in and allow only alarms or notifications from apps in the priority list. Microsoft also reminds that it’s important to set up the priority list to make the most of this new option.
“Make sure you take a moment to customize your priority list to ensure any notifications you want to break through the rule will appear! If you’d like to turn off the warning notification that’s shown in Action Center after entering focus assist, you can do so by clicking the rule in Focus Assist Settings which prompted the notification.”
Other Focus Assist options
The rest of the features that are available for users on Windows 10 version 1809 are still there too.
This means you can configure Focus Assist to automatically be enabled during certain hours, when you’re duplicating the display, when playing games, or when you’re at home.
Customizing the priority list is available in the same screen, and you can enable calls, texts, and reminders, select certain contacts that would be allowed to break through, apps, and Cortana notifications, like reminders and incoming text from a linked phone.
Just like in the previous Windows 10 versions, when you return to working with your computer in window mode (so you exit full screen), the notifications that were blocked by Focus Assist are displayed in the Action Center, so you can always be up-to-date with everything.
Windows 10 19H1 is projected to be released in the spring of 2019, and the current implementation of Focus Assist is available for Windows insiders in the Fast ring. If the same release schedule as before is being used, Windows 10 19H1 should be finalized in March before it gets the go-ahead a month later.
As it was the case of the previous Windows 10 feature updates, Windows insiders will be the first to get the RTM build for additional testing.
Meanwhile, several other builds are projected to go live in the coming months, and Focus Assist could get even more enhancements ahead of the spring 2019 release date.