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Quick Strategies for Personalizing Notification Center

By default, Notification Center works with many different apps simultaneously. So, unless you take charge and set preferences for how often these apps should alert you to various things, you could easily discover that Notification Center constantly becomes active and frequently tries to get your attention.

After all, you might put a very different priority on a missed call from your biggest client than you put on an alert notifying you that your virtual crops are about to wither as you’re playing the popular game Farmville, or that construction of a new mushroom house has been completed as part of the game Smurfs’ Village.

Notification Center can adapt to your personal needs and priorities, thus keeping you informed only about what you deem to be important.

Customize the settings related to Notification Center by accessing the Settings app. To do this, tap on the Settings app icon from the Home Screen. Then, tap on the Notifications option, shown in Figure 4.6. It’s listed third in the main Settings menu (on the iPad, it is displayed on the left side of the screen).

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6. After the Settings app is launched (shown here on the iPhone 4), tap on the Notifications option to customize the settings associated with Notification Center, and decide which apps will constantly be monitored.

After you’ve tapped on the Notifications option in Settings, a listing of apps currently being monitored by the Notification Center app is displayed under the In Notification Center heading (shown on the iPad 2 in Figure 4.7). Meanwhile, those apps that are compatible with Notification Center, but that are not currently being monitored, are displayed under the Not in Notification Center heading.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7. The apps that Notification Center is currently monitoring are displayed separately under the In Notification Center heading in the Settings app.

One at a time, tap on any of the apps listed under the In Notification Center heading to customize the settings associated with how the Notification Center app handles that particular app.

The customizable options available to you in the submenu screen that appears will vary based on which app you’re customizing.

Step by Step: Customize How Notification Center Monitors Apps

To customize the Notification Center settings associated with FaceTime, for example, follow these steps:

  1. From the Home Screen, tap on the Settings app icon to launch Settings.
  2. Tap on the Notifications option.
  3. Choose the FaceTime app from the listing of apps displayed under the In Notification Center heading.
  4. The first option at the top of the submenu screen, which appears in Figure 4.8, is labeled Notification Center. The option is associated with a virtual on/off switch that is located to the right of the label. When this switch is turned on, Notification Center will monitor this app (in this example, FaceTime). If the virtual switch is turned off, Notification Center will no longer monitor this app, and messages, alerts, alarms, or notifications generated by this app will not appear in the Notification Center window.

    Figure 4.8

    Figure 4.8. By turning the virtual switch associated with the Notification Center label to the on position, Notification Center will constantly monitor this app (in this case, FaceTime), and display related messages, alerts, alarms, and/or notifications in the Notification Center window.

  5. If there’s an app you don’t deem important, turn the virtual switch associated with the Notification Center option to off. For example, if you’re using your iPhone or iPad as a business tool, you might want to turn off this setting for Games Center and any games listed (and that are installed on your iPhone or iPad) so that Notification Center does not monitor and display messages, alerts, alarms, or notifications associated with those particular (unimportant) game apps.

  6. Immediately below the Notification Center option that’s associated with the virtual on/off switch is another option, labeled Show. Tap on this option to determine how many messages, alerts, alarms, or notifications relating to this particular app will display in the Notification Center window at any given time. When you tap on this option, a new submenu screen will appear, allowing you to choose between 1 and 20 recent items. Tap on the option of your choice.
  7. To exit this submenu screen and return to the main Notifications screen in Settings (refer to Figure 4.7), tap on the left-pointing arrow icon appearing in the upper-left corner of the submenu screen. In this case, the icon says FaceTime. This will send you back to the previous submenu screen. Again, tap on the left-pointing icon that appears in the upper-left corner of this screen, which in this case is labeled Notifications, to return to the main Notifications screen in Settings.
  8. Upon returning to the app listing displayed under the In Notification Center heading, tap on another app label to customize the settings associated with how the Notification Center app will handle that app. Repeat the steps outlined here for each app.

What to Do When Alerts, Notifications, and Alarms Get Annoying

If you allow all the compatible apps running on your iPad or iPhone to constantly notify you anytime one of the apps generates a message, an alert, an alarm, or a notification, not only will you discover that the Notification Center window quickly becomes cluttered, but you’ll also be distracted by the constant flow of alerts.

To keep your Notification Center window organized, while customizing settings for your apps, follow these basic strategies:

  • Turn off the Notification Center option if the app is not important to you.
  • Limit the display of recent items that pertain to each app to either one or five.
  • For apps like Mail, you can determine how many lines of content are displayed for each new message in the Notification Center window. Choose an option that gives you enough information but doesn’t utilize too much onscreen space in the Notification Center window, thus causing clutter. This is a personal preference.

Stay Informed of Your Appointments, Deadlines, and Responsibilities

For Notification Center to do its job and keep you informed about important appointments, deadlines, and responsibilities, it’s important that you fully utilize the Calendar and/or Reminders apps that come preinstalled with iOS 5 on your iPhone or iPad.

When you maintain your scheduling and calendar information using the Calendar app (or sync data to this app from your primary computer or a compatible online-based scheduling app), and then set Notification Center to work with Calendar, you will easily be able to stay informed of your upcoming meetings, appointments, deadlines, and responsibilities.

How to Limit the Content in the Notification Center Window

Certain apps, like Mail, allow you to choose how much content you get to view for each listing in the Notification Center window. For example, you can opt to view between zero and five lines of an incoming email’s content (in addition to the name of the message’s sender, its subject, and when it was received).

If specific adjustments relating to how much content for each listing can be viewed in the Notification Center window, this can be customized from within Settings. To choose how much of an incoming email’s content you’ll see, for example, follow these steps:

  1. From the Home Screen, tap on the Settings app icon to launch Settings.
  2. Tap on the Mail, Contacts, Calendars option that’s listed under the main Settings menu.
  3. In the Mail, Contacts, Calendars submenu, look for the Mail heading, and then tap on the Preview option.
  4. From the Preview screen, tap on how many lines of the incoming email you want to preview. This decision impacts what you’ll see both in the Mail app itself and in the Notification Center window. Your options include between zero and five lines. Figure 4.9 shows a sample incoming mail listing in which just one line of the message’s body is displayed, and Figure 4.10 shows a sample incoming message listing in which five lines of a message’s body are displayed.
Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9. Here, the user selected to view just one line of each incoming email’s body text in the Notification Center window.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10. In this example, five lines of an incoming email message’s body, as well as the sender, the email’s subject, and the date it was received, can easily be seen in the Notification Center window.

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