With the release of iOS 12, Apple is finally doing something about the mess of notifications and alerts we receive on a daily basis.
Some of the changes are an extension of Apple's effort to help you limit the amount of time spent staring at your screen. Other changes, such as notification grouping, are desperately needed improvements to the platform.
Better DND controls
Using Do Not Disturb to keep your phone quiet during a meeting or while you sleep is easy enough, right? You either manually turn it on, or schedule when you want your phone to quit begging for your attention with each new alert.
One of the downsides is that the schedule feature was designed for use at night. There was no way to trigger DND for a meeting or meal and have it autodisable after a period of time.
In iOS 12, however, there are a few different options -- all of which make DND much more useful. To view the new options, open Control Center and hard-press on the DND icon.
A list of options will show up, letting you set DND to expire in an hour, this evening or when you leave your current location. You can also access the DND schedule setting from here.
In Settings > Do Not Disturb there is a new option called Bedtime just below where you set the scheduled DND time. When enabled, any notifications will not show up on your lock screen. Instead, you'll see a screen that lets you know your device is in DND mode.
The idea here is that if you happen to look at your phone when DND is enabled, you can still see the time but you won't feel obligated to reply to a message or email that's on your lock screen -- because you can't even see the alerts.
Notifications from the same app will now be grouped together, instead of one after another in a long list. Notifications that are grouped appear as a stack of alerts. Expand a group by tapping on the top notification, or hard press on the top notification to open it.
When you tap on a group, you'll see a Show Less button at the top of the list to collapse the group back down into one stack of notifications.
You can still swipe right or left on a lock screen notification to take further action, but now when you swipe left a new option to manage notifications from the respective app is present.
When you select Manage, a popup asks if you want to set the app to deliver notifications quietly, turn off notifications altogether, or open settings to further customize the app's notifications.
If you frequently ignore an alert from a specific app, iOS 12 will ask you if you want to keep receiving alerts or manage the app's notification settings to limit the number of notifications you receive.