Android users have been a spoiled bunch when it comes to device notifications. iPhone and iPad users had to wait until 2011 to see a notification center appear on their devices. It works pretty well though it handles things much differently than its Google counterpart.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time lately discussing notifications, specifically managing them on Android 5 Lollipop, and also how to tame Facebook’s myriad ways of interrupting you. Let’s turn our attention now to iOS and show you how notifications work on those devices. Like we said, the iOS notification center is still somewhat new, but it’s fairly mature and easy to use.

The Notification Center

The Notification Center can be accessed by swiping downward from the top edge of your iPhone or iPad, and then swiping left. Any apps allowed to push notifications to your device will be displayed here.

If you want to clear a group of notifications, tap the “X” in the upper-right corner. If you want to clear a specific notification, press and swipe left and an “X” will appear next to it.

Easy enough, but how do you configure apps to even show (or hide) notifications in the first place? That’s also easy. For one, usually when you install an app on your iPhone or iPad, it will ask you if you want to allow it to display notifications on your device. You don’t have to put a lot of thought into this because you can always go into the system settings and change it.

Notifications Settings on iOS

Open the settings and tap “Notifications” to see your apps list. First off, check out the sorting options. You can sort them by the time they arrive, or by how you want them to appear. To do this, tap “Edit” in the upper-right corner and you can drag your apps around so their notifications appear in the order you prefer.

Tap on an app to adjust its individual settings. We’ll show you what Messages looks like because it’s a rather extensive example of what you might find.

At the top is the most important setting of all: Allow Notifications, so if you want to disable or enable them, here’s where you do that. Beyond this, you have the option to decide how many notifications can appear in the Notification Center (from none to twenty). You may also be able to choose a notification sound (or simply turn the sound on or off), as well as whether or not this particular app can appear on the Lock Screen.

If you have the Badge App Icon setting enabled, it means that if an app wants to alert you to unread e-mails or messages, it will typically show an unread counter (badge) on its app icon, as seen here with Hangouts.

If we scroll down further, there are options for choosing how notifications appear as they happen. This means that if you’re using another app on your device, and for example, someone sends you a message or an e-mail arrives. You can decide whether you see that notification as a banner, an alert, or not at all.

Banners appear at the top of your screen and disappear automatically while alerts appear in the middle of your screen, and must be acted upon before they go away.

Scrolling down further, we see even more options. These are specific to Messages, but you’ll also see a similar set of choices in Photos and Game Center, among others.

Some apps, such as the native Apple Calendar may allow you to adjust notifications by categories. You see, each calendar notification group – upcoming events, invitations, invitee responses, and changes – has its own set of notifications you can configure, which will be very much like those we’ve already described.

Basically, that is the long and short of dealing with notifications on iOS. The nice thing about it is how much say you have over whether an app can display notifications, how they display them, and so on. So, now if you’re getting badgered by one particular app, or you’re missing out on important messages from another, you know exactly how to fix it.

Let’s turn things over to you now. Got an opinion you’d like to share with us, or a burning question you want to ask? Our discussion forum is open and we welcome your feedback.


Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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