iOS 8 added a feature that we had long been asking for: Interactive notifications. Notifications on iOS 8 will not only give you text preview of the notification content, but will also let you perform an action on the notification without leaving the current app.
Apple had already added interactive notifications in OS X Mavericks, so it isn’t a surprise that Interactive Notifications made their way to iOS as well. These notifications will let you reply to Messages without having to go to the Messages app, accept event invitations, move mails to trash, like Facebook posts and more. Here’s a detailed look at this new iOS 8 feature that will make notification management much easier.
When you receive a notification, you’ll first see a standard iOS 7 style banner, with a title, some text content below it, and a holder element at the bottom. What’s new is that when you pull down this holder, you’ll see additional buttons or a text field to respond to the notification.
Apple previewed quite a few different types of notification actions:
A Messages notification will let you reply to a text right from the notification banner, so that you don’t have to jump back and forth between apps to have a conversation.
You’ll now be able to accept or decline event invitations from a notification:
Mark Mails as Read or move them to Trash.
Mark Reminders as completed or snooze them for later.
Interactive Notifications are available to third-party developers too, and Apple showed Facebook as an example:
Of course, all these Interactive Notifications will also be available on the lock screen and in notification alerts. On the Lock Screen, you’ll have to swipe left to reveal the actions associated with a notification. The same swipe interaction works for notifications in Notification Center too:
If you get a notification as an alert, you get two buttons “Close” and “Options”. The close button simply dismisses the alert, and the Options button brings up the actual actions associated with the notification:
- Since Notification Actions let you alter data, Apple lets developers mention if an action is destructive in nature, for example moving a mail to trash. Such actions are shown differently to indicate that their action could be destructive in nature.
- Destructive actions are shown in red on the lock screen, actions that alter state are shown in blue and neutral actions are shown in grey.
- Apple also gives developers an option to require a passcode for performing an action on a notification. So if you take an action on a notification from the lock screen, iOS will ask for a passcode, but won’t unlock the device.
- If you don’t want Interactive Notifications on your lock screen, you can disable them from the Settings app, but on a per-app basis, and not globally.
- Developers can specify up to four actions for a notification, but the number of actions that are shown depend on the kind of notification. For a banner or a lock screen notification, iOS will show just two actions, but an alert can show all four actions, as you can see in the screenshot above.
Interactive Notifications already seem quite useful with Apple’s default apps, but I’m sure third-party developers will create experiences that will increase our productivity even more. With Widgets and Interactive Notifications in iOS 8, Notification Center will become a whole new layer to interact and take actions in iOS.
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