The Notification Center feature of iOS 5 is a powerful tool to keep track of everything happening in your life, but it's not obvious how to use it to its full extent. We'll guide you through the basics of getting started with Notification centre and show you how to make it more useful with a few tweaks.Notification Center is the central hub where your iOS device keeps you updated on all your app notifications. You access it by sliding down on your screen. The key to getting the most use out of it is limiting which apps have access and what type of notifications you get from them. For instance, if you're constantly checking Facebook, don't bother setting a notification for it. Use it for the apps you need to remind you of things, say, Dataman to track your mobile data usage or a to-do list. Don't waste space on anything you don't need.
Let's start by going over the basics of setting up and choosing the right apps before moving on to how you can supercharge the experience on both a jailbroken and non-jailbroken device.
Set Up App Specific Notifications and Alerts
The first step is to enable the notifications that are important to you. To do this, tap Settings > Notifications. Here, you'll see a list of every app that supports notifications and tapping on an app will allow you to customise its behaviour. You will find a lot of different options here, but only a few affect how an app integrates into Notification Center. Here's a look at the settings you need to know.
- Sort Apps: You can choose to sort apps manually or by time. This is up to you, but if you're using notifications for games or other non-essential stuff, you can get better use if you sort them by importance. Click the Edit button and drag them around to order them any way you like.
- Notification Center: This one is pretty clear. If you want an app's notifications to show in Notification centre, toggle the setting to on.
- Show Preview: This allows you to decide whether or not an app shows a full message in Notification centre. For instance, if you're worried about someone reading a text message from the lock screen, you can change the setting to Off and only the basic details will be shown.
- View in Lock Screen: As you'd expect, this allows you to decide which apps show up in the lock screen. You can toggle it out and off, but notifications will still be accessible by pulling the Notification centre down.
Now that you have the basics down, let's look at a few of the shortcuts and tweaks to help you get more out of Notification Center.
The Tricks and Shortcuts to Supercharge Your Notification centre, No Jailbreak Required
While the bulk of the opportunity to customise Notification Center comes from jailbreaking your device, a few tricks can enhance the experience without a jailbreak.
- Use Notification Center as an App Launcher: If you want a DIY approach to turning Notification Center into a dedicated app launcher, it's as simple as setting up the notification for an app as described above, then never clearing it out of Notification Center. This means the message will stay in Notification Center and you can use it to quickly launch an app by tapping on it.
- Configure Launch Center: We've mentioned Launch Center before, but if you're looking to boost the use and customise your notifications without jailbreaking, Launch Center is a great place to start. Launch Center allows you to create customised notifications that launch individual apps or tasks directly from Notification centre. Launch Center uses a loophole by launching itself and then the app you linked it to. This means it takes a little while to get things done, but if you're looking for a way to directly launch apps from Notification Center, this is your best bet without jailbreaking.
- Swipe the Forecast and Stock Widgets: It's the little things that often make a huge difference, and both default widgets for the weather forecast and stocks allow you to swipe directly in the Notification Center to reveal information. For weather, this means swapping between the daily and weekly forecasts. For stocks, you can quickly scroll through the stock ticker to find the stock you're looking for.
Enhancing the Notification Center on a non-jailbroken device gets the job done, but if you want some really great features, you need to jailbreak. Let's look at what you can do with Notification Center on a jailbroken device.
Supercharge the Notification Center With Jailbreak Tweaks
To truly customise your Notification Center and get quick shortcuts to apps, memos, music controls and more, you need to Jailbreak iOS 5. Once you're jailbroken, you can install a number of useful tweaks to get access to more features in Notification Center. One quick note: after downloading each of these from Cydia you have to enable the notifications in the Settings menu. Let's take a look at a few of the best tweaks available right now.
- SBSettings: If you're looking for a single, one-stop shop for several Notification Center tweaks, SBSettings is the place to start. With the widget installed you can set up access to favourite apps, display currently running apps, access a performance manager, a few quick toggles for settings, and adjust setting like volume. It is easily one of the most useful single purpose tools if you're looking for an all-in-one buffet of Notification centre tweaks. You can find this by searching for SBSettings in the Big Boss repository in Cydia.
- AppsCenter: AppCenter is a simple App Launcher that stuff the apps you want directly into Notification centre for quick launching. It doesn't do much else, but if you're looking for a widget to launch apps simply and don't need all the features of SBSettings, this is the best place to start. You can find it by searching for AppCenter in the BigBoss repository.
- QuickMemo: QuickMemo is easily one of the most handy Notification Center tweaks. It gives you a small notepad to write on directly in Notification Center. This means you can jot down a note without interrupting what you're doing. You can find it by searching for QuickMemo in the Big Boss repository.
- Music Controls Pro: This tweak adds music controls to Notification Center. While not exactly revolutionary for the default Music app, the biggest feature is that it supports a wide variety of apps. If you're using an app for playing music that isn't Apple's, this integrates it into iOS well. It's a $US6 download, but comes with a free 5-day trial. You can find it by searching for Music Controls Pro in the Big Boss repository.
- Favorite Contacts: Have you ever found yourself wishing you had a simple one-tap way to call one of your favourite people? Favorite Contacts adds quick access right into Notification Center so you don't have to tap away on other icons. It's simple, but the shortcut is a handy one. It's a $US0.99; download and you can find it by searching for Favorite Contacts in the Big Boss repository.
- Display the Notification Center Into the Lock Screen: One of the problems with the Notification Center is that it's not in your face all day long, so you can miss out on reminders if you're not careful. If you want all these features in both Notification Center and your Lock Screen, you have two options, but both require a little cash. Intelliscreen X has been the go-to way to supercharge your lock screen since the early days of jailbreaking and now it integrates directly with Notification Center and shows the same information on your lock screen. Intelliscreen also adds the ability to tweet, mark emails as read and more. It's a $US10 download in the Cydia Store. If you're looking for a simpler solution, LockInfo does the basics of transporting your Notification Center's contents directly to the lock screen, but isn't as feature-rich as Intelliscreen. It's a little cheaper at $US8 and available in the Cydia Store. Both are great tools if you can't seem to remember to pull Notification Center down to check your calendar schedule or other tasks.
Notification Center is a great tool if you use it wisely. It takes a little effort to get it customised and working for you, but as a hub that stores all your data and is easily accessible from inside any app, it's a great way to keep track of everything that's going on.
Do you have some favourite Notification Center tweaks or tricks? Share them in the comments.