Apple still tweaking Notification Center UI ahead of iOS 5 launch

Apple still tweaking Notification Center UI ahead of iOS 5 launch

There have been some significant UI changes to Notification Center in iOS 5 beta 2, specifically, the way notifications are handled on the Lock Screen. In beta 1, notifications would simply appear as line items, with new notifications stacking as new line items, one after the other. In beta 2, if a single notification comes in, it now gets its own, newly styled popup.

In both cases, you could and can drag the associated app icon to unlock and be taken directly to the app, only the appearance of the first notification has changed. I addition, Apple has added a visible "window shade" UI element to the lock screen, above the single notification, so you can pull down the full list of recent notifications.

For alarms, the change is even more striking, as the addition of the "snooze" button seemed bitsy in the beta 1 UI but is now big and bold in the beta 2 UI (see above).

The most interesting part of this is that Apple is still working on, or experimenting with, the notifications user experience during the beta process. During previous iOS releases, the user experience for cut, copy, and paste, and for the multitasking fast app switcher and folders remained relatively unchanged during the beta process. (Though significant changes were made prior to the beta period, when it was still internal to Apple).

We know Apple hired the father of webOS notifications over a year ago, but also hired the developer of Jailbreak notifications just prior to the iOS 5 beta release. What, if any, impact that might be having on the betas is unknown, but it's tremendous to actually "see" Apple's design iterations on such a major new feature release.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple still tweaking Notification Center UI ahead of iOS 5 launch

45 Comments

That new alarm button is much more functional, but hideous. I hope they find a more pleasant 'Apple' design for these before it goes live.

Its got a long way to go yet. Would love to be able to customise the Lockscreen, as with LockInfo (which is the only reason I jailbreak)
The new bubble just looks awful.

I think you have an option in iOS 5 in the way you want your notification in your home screen and lock screen

There is something "non apple" about the whole notification experience. I always felt the "apple way" was to think long and hard on missing features, and not necessarily be the first, but the best.
We saw that with cut, copy, paste. When other manufactures had multiple open apps draining battery, apple designed "multitasking by API"
But notifications is so generic, and such an android ripoff, it deoesnt feel very Apple. It feels more tacked on than integrated.
When all is said and done, the new notifications are still a welcome change, I guess I was just hoping for a slicker, more original, fresher take on the clutter that is notifications.

It does a bit more then android though. At least in the beta. Grouping (all mail goes with mail. All SMS goes with SMS etc) and I think you can close one by one with out needing to go in to that notfication.

'It does a bit more then android though.'
than - then - than - then. Just guess, you'll be correct 50% of the time.

You CANNOT please everybody. People will have always have something to say about what apple does (mostly owners). I think the new changes look great. Keep um coming APPLE!

Oh come on... you really think that ugly button is the best they can do? Constructive criticism is a catalyst for improvement. Apple doesn't need your pat on the back to make them feel good about what they're doing - the billions of dollars in revenue take care of that.

I feel that the whole notification center is not very intuitive. With android, swiping down the menu bar seems natural and you get notification icons in the top bar. In iOS 5, I often find myself forgetting I have notifications because there is nothing in the menu bar.

You need to have a pat on your back for this comment because you are 100% accurate. It would be sweet to have a universal icon show up in status bar. Like maybe a ! Next to the battery? Good thinking.

Yeah it's really funny that they didn't do this from the start. I think it has something to do with not wanting to clutter up the status bar ESP since the iPhone had a much smaller screen than most android devices. It's nice to be able to look and see there's notifications but at the same time if there's too many its disorienting and looks ugly so I see where apple is coming from. But a single icon indicating there's unread notifications would make the most sense.

All they need to do is add a "!" to the status bar once there are unread notifications and we are good to go.. but aren't there still icon badges?? or they took that away?

This. We don't need 50 icons all over the place but a icon that can tell is that "hey you! you have a notifacation! Check here!)

Well from what we see in the beta it does a lot more then what android does. It groups them together. I do believe you can close one by one

While I'm usually the guy sticking up for Apple in this Android vs. iOS never-ending battle, I'll say this: While I truly believe that Apple has always been ahead of the curve with both hardware and software innovation, I too believe that 'central notifications' wasn't handled properly by Apple. Google, to their credit, built Android's core around supporting it while Apple had no choice but to 'stick a band-aid' on iOS to support central notifications.
If you're not down with the software engineering lingo, sticking band-aids on boo-boo's are okay, but never better than planning ahead to avoid tripping and getting the boo-boo to begin with.

I very much agree. So long as they can avoid any battery drain with the pulse, that'd be awesome. Not sure what color, though. It'd have to be something that was soothing, not jarring. No red or orange. Good call on the pulse, though.

No, actually, you cannot rely on colors. You need to do an icon. If you just do a pulse, color blind people cannot see that there's a new notification.

If I'm not mistaken, a pulse is a change in light intensity, not frequency, right? Therefore, colorblind individuals would be able to see a pulse, just not the color of the pulse. Because nearly EVERY other iOS pulse-based status bar has a double-widened status bar with a listing of the background app in use, I think a pulse would still be appropriate.

My definition of the "Apple way" has never been that they do things perfectly. Its always been a very good attempt at something, that provides a great foundation for jailbreak devs to step in and perfect it. Folders, multitasking, and messaging are all 100 times better with JB tweaks. Already, JB devs are making similar improvements to the notification system.

Because Bundles is only one way among many on Android; on iOS, it is the only way.
It doesn't change the fact Apple lifted it from Android.

As long as the time and date are still there. If I want more information, I can always put aside a few seconds from my day to (get ready for this) unlock my screen.

Eh, I'd prefer a pulse. True, with a #teampure iDevice, there's plenty of room. But when you've got a #teamjailbreak iDevice, youv'e got other icons to contend with. As it stands, I've got the battery indicator, battery percentage, temperature/weather indicator, time, WiFi/3G/EDGE indicator, operator logo (which is AT&T, but some have the full "Verizon"), and signal strength indicator. When the GPS indicator pops up into the status bar, and the loading indicator, I actually literally run out of room on my iPhone.
True, the temperature/weather indicator is a non-essential, non-Apple sanctioned status bar icon, but that's precious space up there. I'd much rather see a color-pulse status bar for notifications. Hey, they could even sync it with a slight LED pulse on the rear of the phone, and it'd be like a notification rave! Oontz-oontz-oontz...