iPhone Notifications and the Today View in iOS 12

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

The more sophisticated the iPhone gets, the more it tells you. When you stop to think about it, the iPhone is called smart because of all the things it can communicate, from stock prices to social-networking friend requests.

Apple previously split up Notification Center and the today view, but these two are joined at the hip. Don’t worry; Notification Center (and the Lock screen) still displays notifications and, along with today view, is readily accessible to deliver potentially important and timely at-a-glance views of everything you want to keep on top of: new emails, texts, the current temperature, appointments and reminders, tweets, and more. To display Notification Center, drag it down like a window shade from the top of any screen. To get to the Today screen, swipe from right to left from the Home or Lock screen.

Notifications are segregated when they come in (Recent, Yesterday, Thursday, and so on) and appear as Mail message notifications, emergency alerts for things such as flood warnings, missed phone call notifications, and notifications from apps (with your prior permission).

You might see USA TODAY notifications — typically headlines of breaking news — are with other USA TODAY notifications, mixed in with the financial tidbit notifications you might get from, say, CNBC.

Notifications are interactive or actionable — something made even more so on iPhone models with 3D Touch. That means you can respond to them immediately. For example, you can accept or decline a Calendar invitation. Without leaving the app you’re working in, you can reply to an email or message. Inside Notifications, meanwhile, you can mark off reminders from your to-do list.

The today view displays widgets or notifications pertaining to the day you are viewing, of course, but it also might clue you in on what’s next on your calendar, say, even if what’s next is the next day. But today is called today for a reason. You’ll know whether to don a raincoat or run out and buy a last-minute birthday gift for your officemate who is celebrating the big Four-O. You’ll know what’s on the immediate agenda. And you can also get a read on how the stocks in your portfolio are performing.

If you scroll to the bottom of the today view, you can tap an Edit button that gives you a bit more control over the items and widgets listed in your today view and the order in which those listings appear. You can remove the notifications you see in this view (or not) and rearrange the order in which, among others, the Stocks, Calendar, and Reminders widgets appear.

As part of iOS 12, you’ll also see Screen Time notifications. It reveals in great detail just how addicted you are to your iPhone generally and to specific app categories on the device in particular.

Notifications from some third-party apps can also show up in the today view.

Apple has also opened up its notification system to third-party developers, enabling you to respond to notifications from some of your favorite apps.

To dismiss an individual notification, lightly press inside the notification using 3D Touch and tap the X. If that notification represented an email, your 3D Touch option might be to archive the message or mark it as read. You can also tap an X to clear an entire day’s worth of notifications, or press a little harder to Clear All Notifications. You can also dismiss individual notifications by swiping the notification from right to left and tapping Clear.

Kindly note that if you swipe from left to right instead, you’ll see an Open option that lets you visit, say, the app behind a notification.

Although it’s useful to keep tabs on all this stuff, you don’t want to be hit over the head with information, thus distracting you from whatever else you’re doing on the iPhone. So Apple delivers notifications unobtrusively by displaying banners at the top of the screen that then disappear until you actively choose to view them. And when you want to do just that, you can summon Notification Center just by swiping down from the top of the screen.

iPhone notifications
Staying in the loop with notifications.

Another new option in iOS 12 lets you group the notifications you see in Notification Center by app, which can help reduce display clutter. For example, you might want to lump all News app notifications, rather than receive a notification each time a new story arrives from a news outlet. Flip a switch inside Notifications settings for the app in question to group notifications in this fashion. You can still view each notification individually by tapping the grouped notification.

You can also choose which notifications you will see, whether you see them on the Lock screen, and how you will see them. Tap Settings→ Notifications and then tap the notifications you want to see in the apps listed under Notification Style.

iPhone alerts
Choosing how alerts should appear.

You can decide whether reminders should appear in Notifications and indicate whether you want to see an alert as a temporary banner that appears at the top of the screen and disappears automatically, or as a persistent banner that remains there until you act on it.

If you don’t want to be bothered with notifications at all, turn on the Do Not Disturb option in Settings or via Notification Center. When enabled, alerts that would otherwise grab your attention will be silenced. You can even schedule the time that the Do Not Disturb feature is turned on. You can also turn on Do Not Disturb to silence incoming phone calls.

And with that, you are hereby notified that you’ve survived basic training. The real fun is about to begin.