iOS 15 gives you better tools to combat the firehose of notifications – with a catch
Apple’s iOS 15 preview earlier this week gave us a glimpse of an important new feature coming to your iPhone notifications: Help. A few new tools can act as a lifeline for those of us right up to our eyes in a sea of notifications every day, regulating which apps and people are allowed to bother us, and when. But on the other hand, app developers also have additional tools to grab your attention and might very well start sending you even After notifications, but in a less disruptive way.
First off, the good news: iOS 15’s new notification features look really good and useful. There’s a new feature called Focus that lets you choose which people and apps you want to see notifications from at any given time. It’s like Do Not Disturb but with a lot more customization than just turning off all possible disturbances. You can set up modes for work, sleep, personal time, and other scenarios such as workouts.
When setting up a new Focus mode, Siri can analyze your outgoing messages and calls and automatically suggest to allow notifications from the people you talk to the most. There’s also a neat trick here: Communications from people you approve can come from other apps, like Facebook Messenger, not just iMessage or SMS. When you receive this Facebook Messenger message in iOS 15, you may also see prompts to associate this person in this app with a corresponding person in your contact list. Once you’ve done that, that person’s communications in a third-party app will be allowed to interrupt your Focus Mode, provided you’ve approved them.
You will also have the option to set some sort of away message when using Focus mode that will let others know that you are temporarily unavailable when they send you an iMessage. When your friend won’t have an answer from you for hours, he won’t have to guess if you hate him or if you are just really busy with work, and that’s good for everyone. iOS 15 also adds notification summaries, which will group lower priority notifications into summaries that you will receive at certain times of the day.
All of this gives you more control over interrupts, which is great! But what about app developers who want you to ~ engage ~ with their platform? They also have new options. They can now use any of four types of notification interrupt, two of which are new in iOS 15. First, they are passive interrupts, a new, less annoying type of notification available to developers that does not wake up. your screen or does not vibrate your phone. 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 allows the app developer to choose to deliver them that way.
These are the types of notifications that might end up in summaries if you’ve enabled this feature. They don’t just appear chronologically in the summary summary either – machine learning allows them to be sorted by priority. They’ll likely include images and other visuals as well, as Apple encourages developers to include media in the notification to increase its chances of appearing at the top of the summary list. And because you’re less likely to get bored, developers are encouraged to send more frequent and engaging notifications. They’ll be less disruptive, but these are the types of notifications we’ll likely see more of in iOS 15.
The other new type of interrupt is “time sensitive”, which is a kind of Notification Plus. It behaves like a standard notification, lighting up your screen and making a sound or vibrating, but with one important difference: it’s allowed to drill into your focus mode settings and warn you even if they aren’t from your camera. ‘an “approved” application. The option to see urgent notifications can be turned on and off by the user, so if you really don’t want to see them, you don’t have to. In theory though, they should be for really urgent events, like a delivered package or your credit card company making sure you bought two round-trip tickets to Maui.
In theory. Apple lets developers decide which notifications deserve a time-sensitive designation, so it’s more or less on the honor system. The company urges them to maintain trust and keep in mind that users can turn off notifications for their app if they feel they are being unnecessarily disturbed. And let’s not forget, Apple itself has already circumvented the rules on what is considered too intrusive for a notification. Could developers end up abusing time sensitive notifications? Maybe, but they probably won’t gain much by it, as users can turn them off and decide to turn off the app altogether.
There are a few other things to note about notifications in iOS 15:
- With compatible audio devices like AirPods, Siri will be able to read any incoming notifications to you. Previously, this function was limited to things like incoming messages. By default, Siri will read the contents of urgent messages and notifications.
- Notifications with a “critical” interrupt type remain basically unchanged – things like Amber Alerts, which bypass your ringtone settings to play a sound and get your attention. App developers always need special permission for these notifications, so suddenly we shouldn’t be seeing more of them in iOS 15.
- Notifications will be slightly different, with larger app icons and contact images included in messages. Actions you can perform on a notification (like a picture, etc.) will also get graphical icons.