First, the good news: the new notification features in iOS 15 look genuinely good and useful. There’s a new feature called Focus that allows you to choose which people and apps you’d like to see notifications from at a given time. It’s like Do Not Disturb but with much more customization than simply turning off every possible disruption. You can set up modes for work, sleep, personal time, and other scenarios like workouts. People who message you in third-party apps can be associated with their profile in your contacts list.
What’s new in iOS 15 notifications? Here’s Apple’s full dev session. Image: Apple
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When setting up a new Focus mode, Siri can scan your outgoing messages and calls and automatically suggest allowing notifications from the people you talk to most. There’s a neat trick here too: communications from the people you approve can come from other apps, like Facebook Messenger, not just from iMessage or texts. When you get that Facebook Messenger message in iOS 15, you may see prompts to associate that person in that app with a matching person in your contacts list, too. Once you’ve done this, communications from that person in a third-party app will be allowed to interrupt your Focus mode, provided that you approved them to do so. You’ll also have the option to set a kind of away message when you’re using a Focus mode that will let others know you’re temporarily unavailable when they send you an iMessage. When your friend doesn’t hear back from you for hours, they won’t have to guess whether you hate them or you’re just really busy with work, and that’s nice for everyone. iOS 15 also adds notification summaries, which will batch lower priority notifications into digests you’ll receive at certain times of day.
Notification summaries. Image: Apple All of this gives you more control over interruptions, which is great! But what about app developers who want you to ~engage~ with their platform? They have new options too. They can now use one of four notification interruption types, two of which are new in iOS 15. First are passive interruptions, a new, less obtrusive kind of notification available to developers that doesn’t wake your screen or cause your phone to vibrate — they go straight to your notification center. Previous versions of iOS allowed the user to designate notifications from certain apps to be delivered silently, but this new framework lets the app developer choose to deliver them this way.
Notifications classified as “passive” appear in your notification center silently, without buzzing your phone or breaking through a Focus mode. Image: Apple These are the types of notifications likely to end up in summaries if you’ve enabled that feature. They don’t just appear in chronological order in the summary digest either — machine learning helps sort them by priority. They’ll likely include images and other visuals too, since Apple encourages developers to include media as part of the notification to increase its chances of showing up at the top of the summary list. And since the risk of annoying you is lower, developers have some incentive to send more frequent, more engaging notifications. They’ll be less disruptive, but these are the kinds of notifications we’re likely to see more of in iOS 15.
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