One of the most anticipated features of iOS 5 is the new Notification Center. Previously, with earlier operating systems for Apple mobile devices, notifications would flash across the screen for just a few seconds, and if you weren’t paying attention, it could be easily missed. The new notification system, however, makes sure that you don’t ever have to miss important news, messages, emails, or voicemails again, and works on all devices running iOS 5, including the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod Touch.
At the same time, it makes sure you don’t miss any important information, is also doesn’t make the messages nearly as obtrusive as they were previously. Under older versions of the iOS, the notifications would flash across the screen and interrupt whatever you were working on. With Notification Center, you get a chance to see the notification as many times as you want, if at all, and in different ways. All of it is your choice.
Looking at Settings on your device, it allows plenty of options for the Notifications. For each app, you can decide how you are going to be notified, if at all. If you don’t care to receive notifications from a certain app, it can be turned off here. Additional choices include having a badge added to the icon and having the alert pop up in the lock screen.
Also in this setting is choosing how many alerts to receive from each app, how often it will notify you, and the style of original alert. If you prefer the original alert, it can still be shown in the middle of your screen for a few seconds, no matter which device you are using.
If the Alerts seem to get in the way and be too obtrusive, you can choose to have them displayed as Banners across the top of the screen. It appears in an elongated thin white box, and again appears for just a few seconds. Perhaps you don’t want any type of alert interrupting your screen; that’s an option too. I went through and chose different styles of alerts for my different apps. Some are more urgent than others.
Here’s where it gets exciting. Those Alerts and Banners aren’t the only time you’ll see these messages. Now they are other gathered together in the “Notification Center.” This can be accessed by swiping downward from the middle of the top of your screen on any device. Calendar entries are included here, as well as everything from Facebook Messages to Emails to Magazines Subscriptions telling you another one is available. After you have read the notification, clicking on it clears it from the screen.
The Notification Center on the iPhone has two additional items not available on the iPad. It also includes Weather and Stocks. In Weather, it shows the current conditions, and a simple swipe brings you to a six-day forecast. Clicking on the weather takes you to the weather app for more in-depth information. The Stocks simply roll by in a scroll at the bottom, but can also be wiped to skip ahead.
Just in the timeframe of a few days, the Notification Center became an invaluable addition to the iOS. The first thing I do when I open the iPad or check my iPhone is to swipe down the Notification Center to see what I’ve missed. I can see easily there whether I need to answer an email or respond to something on Facebook. It’s so useful, that it makes you wonder how iOS could have existed without it.