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Working with Notifications

As you learned in Chapter 1, the iPhone’s notification system keeps you informed of activity in which you may be interested, such as new emails, events, app updates, and so on. There are a number of types of these notifications that you will experience. Visual notifications include alerts, banners, and badges. Alert sounds can also let you know something has happened, and vibrations make you feel the new activity.

You can determine which types of notifications are used for specific activity on your iPhone. This might be one of the most important areas to configure because you want to make sure you are aware of activity that is important to you, but too many notifications can be disruptive and annoying. So, you want to strike a good balance between being aware and being annoyed.

Working with Visual Notifications

There are three types of visual notifications: badges, banners, and alerts.


Badges appear on an app’s or a folder’s icon to let you know something has changed, such as when you have received new email.

Badges are purely informational, meaning you can’t take any action on these directly as you can with the other visual notifications. They inform you about an event so that you can take action, such as to download and install an update to your iPhone’s iOS software or read new text messages.

Banner notifications are usually the most commonly used because they provide information for you, but don’t disrupt what you are doing.

When your iPhone is unlocked, banner notifications appear at the top of the screen. They provide a summary of the app and the activity that has taken place, such as a new email or text message. When a banner appears, you can do one of several things. You can view and then ignore it (it rotates off the screen after displaying for a few seconds). You can tap it to move into the app to take some action, such as to read an email. You can swipe up from the bottom of the banner to close it. For some apps, such as Email, you can press on the notification to open a menu of commands.

Banner notifications can also appear on the Lock screen, which is really convenient because you can read and take action on them without unlocking your phone. To respond to the notification or take other action on it, press it to open it (3D Touch iPhones) or swipe to the right on it (non-3D Touch iPhones) and then take action, such as replying to a message.

Though they look like banner notifications, when an alert notification appears, you must take action on the notification before it goes off the screen, such as listening to a voice message. When the alert appears, you won’t be able to do anything until you at least open the notification. Once opened (press on it on a 3D Touch iPhone or swipe to the right on older models), you can take action on the notification or close it to dismiss it from the screen. You should use alerts for extremely important notifications, such as event notifications from the Calendar app, so that you are sure they will get your attention.

You can also disable visual notifications by selecting the None option, in which case no visual notifications are issued.

Working with Other Types of Notifications

Sounds are audible indicators that something has happened. For example, you can be alerted to a new email message by a specific sound. You can choose global sound notifications, such as a general ringtone, and specific ones, such as a specific ringtone when someone in your contacts calls you.

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.

Configuring Your Notifications

You can configure how 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 or whether its notifications appear on the Lock screen. Not all apps support all notification 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). You can follow the same general steps to configure notifications for each app; you should explore the options for the apps you use most often to ensure they work the best for you.

The steps in this task 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 as exemplified by the steps for Mail’s notification settings.

Configuring an App’s Notifications

To configure notifications from the Mail app, perform the following steps:

  1. Tap Settings on the Home screen.

  2. Tap Notifications. On this screen, you see all the apps installed on your phone. Along with the app name and icon, you see the current status of its notifications.

  3. Swipe up and down to locate the app whose notifications you want to configure. (The apps are listed in alphabetical order.)

  4. Tap the app whose notifications you want to configure.

  5. If you want the app to provide notifications, set the Allow Notifications switch to on (green) and move to step 6. If you don’t want notifications from the app, set the Allow Notifications switch to off (white) and skip to step 18.

  6. Tap the account for which you want to configure notifications; if the app doesn’t support accounts, skip this step.

  7. To show notifications from the app/account in the Notification Center, set the Show in Notification Center switch to on (green); if you set this to off (white), notifications from the app/account are not shown in the Notification Center.

  8. Tap Sounds.

  9. Use the resulting Sounds screen to choose the alert sound and vibration for new email messages to the account (see Chapter 6 for the details about configuring sounds and vibrations).

  10. Tap the back button located in the upper-left corner of the screen (how it is labeled depends on what you are working with).

  11. To display the app’s badge, set the Badge App Icon switch to on (green).

  12. If you want the notifications to appear on the Lock screen, slide the Show on Lock Screen switch to on (green).

  13. Choose the type of visual notification you want by tapping None, Banners, or Alerts. You know which alert type is currently selected because its name appears in an oblong button.

  14. 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 when you receive a notification; to do so, disable the Show Previews option by setting its switch to off (white).

  15. Tap the back button, which is located in the upper-left corner of the window.

  16. Configure notifications for the other accounts used in the app.

  17. Configure notifications for VIP email and threads.

  18. Tap Notifications.

  19. 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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