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iPad/iPhone Tips and Tricks: Make the Most of Notification Center

This chapter shows you how to keep track of what your apps are trying to tell you by using the new Notification Center on your iPad or iPhone.
This chapter is from the book

Many of the apps you’ll probably be running on your iPhone or iPad are capable of generating messages, alarms, alerts, and/or notifications to inform you that some action needs to be taken.

Mail, for example, will alert you to new incoming emails. Phone (on the iPhone) or FaceTime will tell you if and when you’ve missed a call. Messages will get your attention when someone sends you a text message. Calendar can be set to remind you of your important upcoming appointments, and the new Reminders app will notify you whenever an item on one of your to-do lists requires your immediate attention.

If you play games or you’re active on Twitter or Facebook, these apps also can notify you when actions need to be taken, or if someone is trying to get in touch with you.

Many apps can also sound off audible alarms, whereas others display alert or notification windows. After you start relying on and using a handful of different apps, it’s very easy to become inundated with messages, alerts, alarms, and notifications from them. Thanks to iOS 5, the solution to managing all of these items as they happen is a new app. It’s called Notification Center.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1. Notification Center is constantly running on your iPhone or iPad. In a single window that appears near the top of the screen, it lists all messages, alerts, alarms, and notifications from the various apps that it constantly monitors.

At any time, from the Notification Center window, you can tap on an individual item that’s listed to instantly launch the relevant app, and have whatever it is that needs your attention quickly displayed on your iPhone or iPad’s screen.

So if you’re alerted to an upcoming appointment (as shown in Figure 4.2), simply tap on that alert, the Calendar app will launch, and then your pending appointment(s) are displayed.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2. From the Notification Center window, tap on any alarm, alert, or notification listed to launch the relevant app and deal with whatever requires your attention.

You can access the Notification Center window anytime that your iPhone or iPad is turned on by swiping your finger from the very top of the device’s screen in a downward direction.

A smaller version of the Notification Center window will also appear (and then automatically disappear) whenever a new alarm, alert, or notification (such as a missed call or incoming email) is triggered.

Notification Center’s Main Window

Based on how you personalize Notification Center, the app’s main window will display 1, 5, 10, or 20 messages, alerts, alarms, or notifications from each app that it constantly monitors.

If you have Notification Center set to monitor the Mail app and display five alerts from the app at any given time, then when you view the Notification Center window, you will see a summary of the last five incoming emails you received. This is shown in Figure 4.3.

Having Notification Center display only one or five messages from each app will keep the Notification Center window less cluttered, making it easier to quickly determine what needs your attention. However, displaying more messages from each app will inform you about everything that currently requires your attention.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3. You decide exactly how many messages, alerts, alarms, or notifications are displayed in the Notification Center window pertaining to each app.

Keep in mind, if 10 apps are being monitored and each app generates 20 new alerts, your Notification Center window will display up to 200 individual listings. It will take you several minutes to review all this information, which isn’t necessarily the most productive use of your time. All messages, alerts, alarms, and notifications are displayed in reverse chronological order by time (based on when each alert is generated), but also categorized by app for easy reference. When the Notification Center window is displayed, use your finger to scroll downward, as needed, to see the entire list.

When you view the Notification Center window, divider bars with the name of each app that is being monitored are displayed. Below each divider bar, shown in Figure 4.4, are the messages, alerts, alarms, or notifications generated by that particular app.

At any time, tap on any listing in the Notification Center window to launch the relevant app and deal with what requires your attention, such as a missed call, a new incoming email, or an unread text message. Otherwise, to make the Notification Center window disappear, tap anywhere on the iPhone or iPad screen that is outside the window, or flick your finger in an upward direction, from the bottom of the notification center window toward the top.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4. In the Notification Center window, divider bars are used to separate messages, alerts, alarms, and notifications generated from each app that the Notification Center app is constantly monitoring.

The current time is always displayed at the top center of the Notification Center window, and the time each message, alert, alarm, or notification was generated is displayed on the right side of each listing.

On the left side of each listing, when applicable, a blue dot (shown in Figure 4.5) will appear. This dot indicates that it’s a new listing, and that you have not yet taken any action relating to it. After you tap on the listing to launch the relevant app, the blue dot will automatically disappear.

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5. A blue dot is displayed on the left side of each listing in the Notification Center window if the listing is new and no action has yet been taken.

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