I OS 12 Apps Insight

WWDC 2018

What's coming with iOS 12 notifications


  • United States



  • Alex Anderson

At Apple’s 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), they announced a variety of feature additions coming to the iOS 12 operating system, including updates to push notifications. Some of these changes will work with your application out of the box, with no code modifications needed. However, there are other updates you can make to your applications to better utilize more of the new features.

Notification Grouping

Instead of the unorganized “firehose” of notifications we experience on iOS 11, iOS 12 will be grouping notifications by application on the lock screen and in the notification center. Users will be able to tap on a group to display all of the notifications from that group or slide the group to the left to clear the entire group, making notification management much easier. Notifications from your app will be automatically grouped together in iOS 12, but if your app sends different types of notifications that should be kept in separate groups (e.g. flight status vs. marketing messages), a bit of extra development work can handle several different notification groups.

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Keeping these types of notifications in separate groups enables users to manage their notifications without missing important information. For instance, a user could easily clear all of the marketing notifications from an app without clearing its flight status notifications, or open up the flight status notification group to see all of their flight status updates in one place.

Provisional Authorization

Another major update to notifications is “provisional authorization.” Provisional authorization is a new way to enroll users to receive notifications from your app. In previous iOS releases, an application had to present an authorization prompt to get permission from the user before sending any notifications.

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Apple felt that this wasn’t always the best strategy since users are unsure what kind of notifications an app may initially send them. Provisional authorization aims to solve this problem by allowing apps to send notifications immediately, without the need for an authorization prompt. After a sufficient amount of time, the system will ask the user if they’d like to continue receiving notifications from the app. An example of this prompt is shown below, along with the dialogue resulting from tapping the "keep..." option.

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After a user decides to keep the notifications, they are now presented with a new option for how they would like their notifications delivered: promptly or quietly.

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Notifications that are delivered promptly work how iOS 11 users expect, they are delivered to the lock screen, notification center, and play a sound. Notifications delivered quietly are only delivered to the notification center, not the lock screen, and do not produce a sound. Notifications sent with provisional authorization are delivered quietly unless the user decides otherwise.

The provisional authorization may be useful in your application if it is ever unclear to a user why they would want to receive your app’s notifications. Provisional authorization allows users to see the value in receiving notifications from your app before being given the option to deny permission, theoretically increasing the number of users who receive notifications. If notifications from your app are time-sensitive, then taking advantage of provisional authorization may not make sense for your app (since these alerts should always be delivered prominently).

Interactive Rich Notifications

The last major update to notifications was the inclusion of interactive rich notifications. With the introduction of rich notifications in iOS 10, Apple gave developers the ability to display a custom UI within notifications. These notifications could display images, videos, or other custom UI with a set of system buttons below for interaction, but a user could not interact directly with any components of the custom UI.

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In iOS 12, Apple has removed this restriction, allowing users to interact directly with custom UI components within rich notifications. In the example below, the “like” system button from the previous screenshot has been changed into a heart image button, located within the rich notification’s custom UI.

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This enhances the user experience since they expect to interact with the content which mimics an in-app experience.

With the changes coming to notifications in iOS 12, the OS will feel more refined and polished. Do you need help taking advantage of these new features? Want to ensure your users receive the best experience when iOS 12 launches next week? Fill out the form below and one of our strategists will be in touch.

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