I finally discovered Apple CarPlay focus mode while driving the Ford Bronco Raptor

“I really need to focus on my driving right now,”

I was talking to my wife as we drove the 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor, but not because it was raining or the traffic was too intense. I didn’t have someone on my tail like usual in the major urban area where we often drive (when we are not living in peace in our small town). I wasn’t even trying to navigate to some new destination and watching for street signs.

In this case, it was more about enjoying the vehicle. I’m a major Ford Bronco fan already, since I like the styling and size, the road-hugging stability, and even the legacy of this iconic SUV. I have a few friends who salivate every time I test one of these since they also have an affinity for the cool design, which almost looks like a Range Rover from certain viewing angles.

During my test, I took some off-road routes and just wanted to focus on the driveability and traction control, the smooth ride, and just the fun and thrill of taking some less-traveled roads with a little mud and dirt to plow through with the massive off-road ready tires.

Fortunately, I found a new setting in Apple CarPlay that made all of the difference. Driving Focus is a setting I never noticed before (I will say it is because I was focused on driving, ironically). The setting announces itself this way: “Driving Focus silences some alerts and notifications.” That sounds like my vibe while driving the Bronco. As it turns out, this one setting changed how I experienced the test during the week, since I left it on almost the entire time.

How does it help? For starters, we live in a world of constant pings. Text messages are coming in more than ever — have you noticed? I wrote an entire book about how this deluge is making us terribly unproductive. Anything that is worth doing in life is almost always a slow burn, like raising kids or spending time with loved ones. When there are constant pings, we are constantly pulled away from those meaningful activities. 

Driving has always been an escape for me. My first car was a Ford Mustang when I was a teenager, long before cell phones. In the Bronco, I didn’t have to think about life. I didn’t feel pulled into conversations and texts, which are normally not something that works that well while driving anyway — although Siri makes it so easy that I do it anyway.

During my drives, I focused more on conversation with real people sitting in the vehicle, not with the virtual realm and not with my phone. No text messages came in, no notifications from any apps — no nothing, actually. I was able to just experience the vehicle.

The setting is also easy to find. This is strange to admit, but I never really played around with the CarPlay settings before, assuming they didn’t really offer that much customization. It turns out you can change a few things, like the color scheme and background image — it’s also where you find the focus mode, which helped me enjoy the vehicle so much more.

Of course, you may not be able to use it. I turned it off briefly during a commute to a remote office, when I did need to do some voice texting with colleagues. That said, I plan to use focus mode way more often, and learn to just enjoy the ride — especially in the Bronco.