Lock down Notifications
The basics of notifications remain the same in iOS 11. They can appear as a banner across the top of the screen, play a sound, and display a badge on their parent app’s Home screen icon to remind you there are things awaiting your attention. However, there are some important changes to know about. Helpfully, they include the use of clearer language to describe behaviors and hopefully prevent confusion.
In the past you might previously have stopped an app showing notifications on the Lock screen because you didn’t want it to display potentially sensitive data there. Problem is, you could also miss important notifications. Fortunately, this should no longer be necessary – one of iOS 11’s most welcome changes can fix that for you.
Banners, plain and simple
The first change is a matter of clearer terminology, and will be beneficial if you’re new to iOS. Previously, Apple used the term “banners” to refer to the kind that briefly pop in at the top of the screen and disappear a few seconds later, and “alerts” for those that look identical but stick around till opened or dismissed. In iOS 11, both are now called banners, and the distinction between them is clearer: you’ll find them described as “temporary” and “persistent” in apps’ pages in Settings > Notifications.
New names for familiar faces
Go to any app’s notification settings and you’ll see there are no longer “Show in Notification Center” and “Show on Lock Screen” items. In their place are two new options: “Show on Cover Sheet” and “Show in History.” Unlike banners, these aren’t just a name change. While the Cover Sheet is essentially what you already know as Notification Center – still accessed by swiping down from the screen’s top edge – it sports some functionality changes for the better.
Instant photos, wherever you are
It’s no longer possible to set an app’s notifications so that alerts appear on the Lock screen but not in the Cover Sheet, or vice versa. The two places are identical in content and functionality, save for the distinction of your device being locked or unlocked (which is important to the next tip, about notification previews).
As a consequence of the Lock screen and the Cover Sheet being the same, a super-quick route to camera features is available even when you’re using an app: just swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Cover Sheet, then swipe left on an empty area of it.
To preview or not to preview
In previous versions of iOS, notification settings for a few apps – notably Mail and Messages – included a Show Previews option. You could change this from “Always” to “When Unlocked” or “Never” to prevent private info being visible on the Lock screen. The majority of apps didn’t offer this, though. iOS 11 fixes this with a global Show Previews setting at the top of Settings > Notifications, providing a way to ensure no info from any app is readable by roving eyes.
This default setting for all apps is supplemented by a Show Previews item within every app’s settings. This arrangement gives you more privacy by default, but you can allow apps to deviate from the norm if you know they won’t leak anything sensitive.
Rest finger to preview
Prior to iOS 11, you might have enabled Settings > General > Accessibility > Home Button > Rest Finger to Open. If that’s the case and you set the master Show Previews setting to When Unlocked, after unlocking your device you’ll have to pull down the Cover Sheet to read the items that were shown on the Lock screen.
Disable that accessibility setting and, after waking your device, resting your finger on the Touch ID sensor will unlock your device but immediately preview your notifications; press the Sleep/Wake button if you want to lock the device and hide the previews again.
There are two tiers to notifications on the Lock screen/Cover Sheet. Tap any app’s name in Settings > Notifications and you’ll see “Show on Cover Sheet,” which is the list of recent and unattended alerts shown when you wake your device or pull down the Cover Sheet.
“Show in History” refers to the list of older items you haven’t acted upon or dismissed, shown when you swipe up on the Lock screen or Cover Sheet. So, you might prioritise Facebook’s Messenger app to inform you of direct messages on the Cover Sheet, but confine status updates from the main Facebook app to the history, say.