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Setting Up Notifications and the Notification Center

Many apps use notifications to communicate information to you, such as to inform you about new information, provide status updates, new email messages, new text messages, and so on. You can use the Notifications settings to enable or disable notifications and to configure them for specific apps. Configuring notifications is one of the most important ways to customize your iPhone so that it keeps you informed as much as you want it to without overwhelming you with too many notifications.

Understanding Notifications and the Notification Center

There are several types of notifications, which include badges, banners, alerts, vibrations, and sounds.

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Badges are the counters that appear on an app’s or folder’s icon to let you know how many new of something you have, such as email messages, texts, event invitations, and so on. You can enable or disable the badge for an app’s icon. (Remember that when a badge appears on a folder’s icon, it counts all the events for all the apps it contains.)

Banners are small messages that appear at the top of the screen when something happens, such as when you receive an email message. Banners contain the icon of the app from which they come, and they can show a preview (if you enable the preview setting). Banners are nice because they don’t interfere with what you are doing. If you ignore a banner, after a few seconds, it disappears. If you tap a banner, you move into the app producing the banner and can work with whatever the banner is for, such as a new email message. You can swipe up on a banner to close it. You can swipe down on a banner to reply (for some apps, such as Messages). When you receive a new banner when one is visible on the screen, the first one rotates out of the way so the newest one is displayed. If you receive a lot of notifications at the same time, you see a summary of how many you have received.

Alerts are another means that apps can use to communicate with you. There are alerts for many types of objects, such as texts, emails, reminders, missed call notifications, and so on. The differences between a banner and an alert are that alerts appear in the center of the screen and you must do something to make the alert go away, such as listen to or ignore a voice message. Some alerts have an Options button; tap this button to see and do actions related to the notification. Tap Close to close it without taking any action.

You should use alerts when you want to be sure to take action on the occurrence about which a reminder is being sent. For example, you might want to use alerts for calendar events so you have to respond to the notice that the event is coming up, such as the start of a meeting. Banners are better for those notifications that you want to be aware of but that you don’t want to interrupt what you are doing, such as email messages. (If an alert appeared each time you received an email message, they could be very disruptive.)

Sounds are audible indicators that something has happened. For example, when something happens in the Game Center, you can be notified via a sound. Earlier in this chapter, you learned how to configure your iPhone’s general sounds. You also can configure the sounds used for a specific app’s notifications.

Vibrations are a physical indicator that something has happened. Like sounds, you can configure general vibrations, and you can also configure an app’s vibration pattern for its notifications.

The Notification Center enables you to access all your notifications on one screen. As you learned in Chapter 1, “Getting Started with Your iPhone,” swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Notification Center. You can configure a number of settings related to the Notification Center. Tap the Notifications tab, and you see your current notifications grouped by the associated app. Swipe up and down the screen to review them. Tap the delete (x) button and tap Clear to clear all of the notifications for an app. You can configure which apps provide notifications here and how many are allowed.

Setting Global Notification Preferences

Use the following steps to configure general notification settings:

  1. On the Settings screen, tap Notifications.

  2. In the NOTIFICATIONS VIEW section, tap Sort By Time if you want the notifications shown in the Notification Center to be organized based on the most recent information being toward the top of the screen and skip to step 6; tap Sort Manually if you want to set the order (from top to bottom) of how apps appear in the Notification Center.
  3. Tap Edit to continue with the manual sorting or skip to step 6 if you don’t want to set the order manually.

  4. Drag items by their order button up and down to change the order in which they appear in the Notification Center. If many apps are listed in the INCLUDE section, you need to swipe up the screen to see all of them.
  5. When you are done manually sorting the order, tap Done.

  6. Configure each app’s notification settings; the details of this are explained in the next task.

  7. Swipe up the screen until you see the GOVERNMENT ALERTS section.

  8. If you don’t want to receive AMBER alert notifications, set the AMBER Alerts switch to off (white).
  9. If you don’t want to receive other types of emergency alerts, set the Emergency Alerts switch to off (white).

Configuring Notifications for Specific Apps

You can configure which apps can provide notifications and, if you allow notifications, which type. You can also configure other aspects of notifications, such as whether an app displays in the Notification Center, whether its notifications appear on the Lock screen, and so on. Apps support different notification options, and not all apps support all options. Some apps, such as Mail, support notification configuration by account (for example, you can set a different alert sound for new mail in each account). However, you can follow the same general steps to configure notifications for each app; you should explore all the options for the apps you use most often to ensure they work the best for you.

The following steps show how to configure Mail’s notifications, which is a good example because it supports a lot of notification features; other apps might have fewer features or might be organized slightly differently. But, configuring the notifications for any app follows a similar pattern.

  1. Continuing in the Notification Center screen from the previous task, swipe up to see the INCLUDE section. Here, you see each app on your iPhone that supports notifications. The INCLUDE section shows apps whose notifications are currently shown in the Notification Center, while those for which the Notification Center is disabled are shown in the DO NOT INCLUDE section.
  2. Tap the app whose notifications you want to configure.

  3. If you want the app to provide notifications, set the Allow Notifications switch to on (green) and move to step 4. If you don’t want notifications from the app, set the Allow Notifications switch to off (white) and skip the rest of these steps.
  4. Tap Show in Notification Center.

  5. Tap the number of individual notifications you want to be shown in the Notification Center.
  6. Tap the back button, which is labeled with the name of the app you are configuring (Mail, in this example). If an app supports multiple accounts, you can configure the notifications for each account. If not, you see the Notifications screen showing all the options for that app and you can skip to step 8.

  7. Tap the account for which you want to configure notifications.

  8. If you want notifications from the account you selected in step 7 to appear in the Notification Center, set the Show in Notification Center switch to on (green); set the switch to off (white) if you don’t want notifications for the account to appear in the Notification Center.
  9. Tap Notification Sound.

  10. Use the resulting Notification Sound screen to choose the alert sound and vibration for new email messages to the account (refer to the section on setting general sound preferences earlier in this chapter for details).
  11. Tap the back button located in the upper-left corner of the screen (it will be labeled with the account’s name).

  12. To display the app’s badge, set the Badge App Icon switch to on (green); if you set it to off (white), the badge is not displayed when new email arrives.
  13. If you want the app’s notifications for the account to appear on the Lock screen, slide the Show on Lock Screen switch to on (green); if you set it to off (white), you won’t see notifications from the app for the account when your iPhone is locked.
  14. Choose the type of notification you want the app for the account to provide by tapping None, Banners, or Alerts. The selected alert type is the one whose name is enclosed in an oblong.

  15. If you don’t want a preview to appear in the app’s notifications, slide the Show Previews switch to off (white). For example, you might want to keep some types of messages private; to do so, disable the Show Preview option for that account.
  16. Tap the back button, which is located in the upper-left corner of the window and is labeled with the app you are configuring (Mail, in this example).

  17. Configure notifications for the other accounts used in the app.
  18. Configure notifications for VIP email and threads.
  19. Tap Notifications.

  20. Repeat these steps for each app shown on the Notification Center screen. Certain apps might not have all the options shown in these steps, but the process to configure their notifications is similar.

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