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.
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 a knob-like 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.
Here’s some of the things you can do with Interactive Notifications:
Quick Reply for Messages
When you get a banner notification for a new text message, you can tap on the notification to start the conversation in the Messages app like before or you can now swipe down on the notification, type the reply and hit Send to quickly reply to the message without leaving your current app. You can also send an audio message by tapping on the microphone button and releasing it when you’re done recording.
When you get a notification for a Calendar invitation, you can swipe down on the Notification, to accept or decline it.
When you get a banner notification for a new Mail, you can now swipe down on the notification, and either mark it as read or trash/archive the email without opening the Mail app.
When you get a banner notification for Reminders, you can swipe down on the notification, and either mark it as completed or tap on the snooze button so you can be reminded about the task after sometime.
Interactive Notifications are available to third-party developers too. Here are couple of examples:
You can quickly comment or like a post when you get a notification for a post on your timeline without having to open the Facebook app as you can see below by swiping down on the notification.
You can retweet or favorite a tweet when you get a notification when someone mentions you on Twitter by swiping down on the notification.
Lock Screen and Notification Center
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. So you don’t have to unlock your iPhone to respond to notifications. The same swipe interaction works for notifications in Notification Center too.
The notifications are also interactive alerts. If you get an alert, you can close it or take action, and then continue doing what you were doing without leaving the app.
Some interesting tidbits to look out for:
- 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 are useful with the stock iOS apps, but I’m sure third-party developers will create experiences that will increase our productivity even more.
Let me know if you’ve any questions.