WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

Summary: One of iOS' biggest drawbacks to date is its horrible notification system. You know what I'm talking about, you're busy tapping away an email (or working on that impossible Angry Birds level), and BLING!, up pops a modal dialog box.

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TOPICS: iOS, Apple, Apps, Mobile OS
31

San Francisco -- Easily my favorite feature of Apple's newly-minted iOS 5, announced here yesterday, is its new Notification Center.

One of iOS' biggest drawbacks to date is its horrible notification system. You know what I'm talking about, you're busy tapping away an email (or working on that impossible Angry Birds level), and BLING!, up pops a modal dialog with a text message, tweet, whatever, smack in the middle of your screen.

Your options at this point are to either a) Close the window and hope that you remember to check it again later, or b) View the notification and interrupt what you're doing. While there are worse things, it's annoying, inconvenient and promotes closing (translation: forgetting) notifications.

It gets problematic when you get multiple notifications. Since they're confined to the same bulky notification window -- which obscures your screen -- they get truncated and only display the sender and the number of pending messages. Completely useless and borderline offensive.

iOS 5 does away with the insanity that is iOS notifications as we know them now. Apple's replaced the jenky implementation above with a new Notification Center below -- and it's a welcome breath of fresh air.

The interface above is available by swiping down from the top of any home screen and similarly put away by swiping upward via the little handle at the bottom center. It even includes a stock ticker and the current weather forecast.

When you receive a notification in iOS5 it now appears subtly at the top of the screen -- instead of blocking the middle of the screen like the current notifications do.

Touching it whisks you to the appropriate app (Mail, Messages, Twitter, etc.) and after a period of time it goes away. If the new Notification Center UI looks familiar to the jailbreak app MobileNotifier (below), that's because Apple hired Peter Hajas (its developer) in May to help address the problem.

The icing on the cake is that iOS 5 notifications extend to the lock screen too, so you can see them immediately without unlocking your phone. They even wake the screen briefly to show that a new notification has arrived. Swiping "slide to unlock" takes you to the app that generated your most recent notification.

Good, good stuff. And about time too.

Topics: iOS, Apple, Apps, Mobile OS

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31 comments
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  • Is there a way to kill *all* of the notifications on Notifications Center..

    ... at one, with one button or gesture?<br><br>Android has it and it help sometimes, when certain applications abuse the system, but yet their functionality does not allow you to switch off notifications from them completely.
    DDERSSS
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

      @DeRSSS <br>Very very true.<br>There needs to be a way to select what is in Notifications, what is not, and lockscreen vs homescreen.<br>I get 200+ work emails a day - I don't need those in Notifications unless I want too.<br>I don't want any visibility other than a notice on the lockscreen (security concerns).<br><br>But all in all, this is a significant improvement. Could be better if the other Android options are also in it.<br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
      rhonin
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

    Funny how the new notification system resembles the Windows Phone notifications. Yet I doubt any of the fanboys will mention that fact or the fact the notification system was SO annoying that they had to create an application (Notification Center) just to deal with it. Why not fix the extremely poor spell checking system?
    smfrazz
    • Then let me be the first

      @smfrazz

      To personally thank Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc. and their respective users and developers in their continuing efforts to keep the game going.
      oncall
      • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

        @oncall
        Congrats!!

        and soooo true - thx!
        rhonin
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

      @smfrazz
      Yes, to some it may have been annoying. Still they are making a change. Does one need to make the snide statement, "...Yet I doubt any of the fanboys will mention that fact or the fact the notification system was SO annoying..." to feel uppity?

      So what if it resembles Windows Phone notification. All vendors make changes incorporating the better ideas of their competition. That is what has moved this computer industry ahead. Windows took ideas from Apple that is what brought us the first versions of Windows. Linux taking ideas from both Apple and Windows. I do not see a problem with that.

      If you want the spell checker fixed contact Apple: http://www.apple.com/feedback/ . Complaining on this forum is useless.
      BubbaJones_
      • It's just wrong

        @RicD_ I was just as mad to see Chevrolet copy Ford and put round tires on all their new cars and trucks.
        Seriously, if you only copy, you will never lead. They have innovated and that's why they are where they are. If you don't do something as well, copy it. Doesn't mean you can't still lead. By the way, I have heard they copied WebOS on the card thingy. It was a great feature. Would love to see it come to android. Multitasking and open apps SUCK on Android once you've seen what's possible.
        10kwfence
      • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

        @10kwfence
        You forgot tail fins, everyone had them. Also, one took off the external sun visor then everyone did. When they removed the rumble seat, it was a OMG moment, the mother in-law was in the car. Sometimes coping is just so wrong. :-(
        BubbaJones_
      • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

        @10kwfence
        [i]Multitasking and open apps SUCK on Android once you've seen what's possible.[/i]
        wow. :|
        Your opinion. btw: Android it works very well; iOS doesn't have it, WebOS is better.
        rhonin
    • If only they could get it working for windows;-)

      Finally, Apple is following their own guidelines (from pre X days):

      http://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#documentation/Darwin/Conceptual/MacOSXNotifcationOv/Introduction/Introduction.html

      But yeah, thanks MS for the idea!
      Richard Flude
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

      @smfrazz Funny this looks like the some of the notification systems that could be used way before wp7 was out via jailbreaking the phone.
      illwill112
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

      @smfrazz I hate to burst your bubble there Nancy but while you were eagerly awaiting the phone that Ballmer and CO promised would pound the iOS and Android devices back to the stone age and you M$ shills would once again be the rockettes this style of notification system has been available to the iPhone jailbreaking community for several months prior to WP7 being released. Sure Apple is looking at what Android and WP7 is doing but they are looking more at the jailbreaking community for ideas that are proven to work with the iOS platform - that is why they hired one of the designers that worked on the notifier system for jailbroken iPhones rather than one of the designers for the WP7 or Android versions of it.
      athynz
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

    I hate to see the cluttered notifications from twitter on lock screen, ok with emails that are marked as important.
    Ram U
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

      @Rama.NET
      Hopefully this fix has an opt-out for each notifications.
      :)
      rhonin
  • I don't know about the lock screen

    I'm cool with being notified of a message on the screen but do you really want a text message to show on your screen? What if it's your friend making some obscene comment as your iPhone is sitting on your desk while talking to your boss. He glances down and sees "Your boss is bad, but you won't believe what my idiot boss did". And that would be mild compared to some of the things my idiot friends send.
    LiquidLearner
    • As you know

      @LiquidLearner

      The current messaging system has a "show preview" toggle in the settings for messages for this exact reason. I think your concern is valid but I also suspect it will be handled the same as it is now.
      oncall
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

    Gimme my Windows Phone 7 anyday. iPhone is a joke; never seen one in the wild.
    Monkeypox
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

      @Monkeypox
      LOL.
      rossdav
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

      @Monkeypox
      Chuckle ;)
      Need a Bloom County episode for this :D
      rhonin
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iOS 5 notifications go from stink to stellar

      @Monkeypox LOL! Now that right there is funny I don't care who you are! No iPhones in the wild... LOL
      athynz