We need VIP for all messaging, not just Mail

Mail's VIP — short for Very Important Person — feature is great. It lets you "star" the people most important to you, thus enabling sound, vibration, and Lock screen notifications solely for them. It's a terrific way to make sure you're alerted when you get email that matters, yet avoid being interrupted when it doesn't. It's so good that it's a pity it's currently limited to just the Mail app. But maybe iOS 10 could change that?

Imagine a VIP setting that existed on the system-level, as a part of Contacts far beyond Mail. That way, you could make sure those same VIPs get priority notification status in Messages and conceivably Twitter, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, LINE, and any and every other service capable of tying into it.

The line between notification and interruption is fuzzy. To paraphrase a line from The Incredibles, when everything is special, nothing is. When everything gets your attention, you lose the ability to focus.

VIP, yeah you get through to me

Right now, my iPhone and iPad only beep or buzz when a VIP Mail comes in. That way, I can be reasonably certain that if they do beep or buzz, it's because something really does need my attention, and in short order. Messages, in contrast, has no VIP setting, making notifications all or nothing. And since my friends, family, and and colleagues use iMessage and SMS to contact me when things are urgent or they need to make sure I see something, I can't turn those notifications off — it has to default to all. And that includes the carrier offers, fake cruise contests, and all the other spam that comes in from time to time.

Likewise Twitter, Messenger, Snapchat, Skype, et al.

If the VIP feature was system-wide, once you set a contact as a VIP, they could contact you using any method available to them and you'd be able to see their message without also having to tune into the notifications firehose.

VIP could also fold in Phone Favorites, which are currently a separate list that, unlike VIP, doesn't sync with iCloud. Conversely, VIP could be made capable of punching through Do Not Disturb, the way Favorites does. That way, if you choose to enable it, you won't miss critical calls or critical messages.

Watch it scale

All of this is even more important on Apple Watch, of course, where the lack of granularity in notifications beyond Mail VIP makes some apps unmanageable.

Overall, VIP moving from a Mail feature to a system-level based in Contacts available in all apps feels like not only a more functional solution, but a more consistent one. And that's why I'd love to see it in iOS 10.

I've filed this as a feature request with Apple's bug reporter: rdar://19198048. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • It's not just the Mail thing but also a problem when you set your device to "Do not disturb" -- you can then only have VIP phone calls come through but why not do the same for text messages from VIP contacts?!
  • Yes! I love DND but I can only phone numbers can be favorites...and then ONLY if they call. Also our IT monitoring system notifies us with problems but they arrive from an email address to Messages. If Apple added this it would change my life (not exaggerating). Sent from the iMore App
  • Sometimes I'm waiting for one important call or text but don't know wether that will actually happen at night. So I can't leave my phone on all night because I would wake up too often but I also can't miss that call. I would love to be able to set it so that if this specific call or text happens that it by passes do not disturb. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yep Sent from the iMore App
  • We need a mail app that works better and that does not drain the battery first Sent from the iMore App
  • You might need to check your Fetch frequency. I have 3 email accounts with push (exchange, 2 yahoos) & one on manual fetch (gmail, not important) and Mail only accounts for 6% of my battery over the past 7 days. I don't get hundreds of emails a day, but still. Sent from the iMore App
  • Despite being the oldest of all current mobile operating systems, there is still a lot of low-hanging fruit left to pick. I know Apple likes things to be simple, but there are so many instances where some advanced settings would make the iPhone so much more usable. Lastly, home-screen widgets should be a thing by now.
  • Only if could work with other services like google contacts etc ... Don't want to use to unreliable and not so great iCloud services. Only use the best like iPhone hardware and Google services.
  • I agree but why do we always have to wish for things like this in the next version of iOS? How about in 9.4?
  • Bc they crap out gimmicky features, ignoring core functionality, then spend the next half year patching holes to get things back to tolerable before doing it all over again. One step forward, two steps back. Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree whole heartedly with this post. But I'd also like to have it so o can set things up for email, messages and phone separately. And for those who just want to set up all 3 the same, make that axpvailablbe in the settings for them too. Then there could be the 3rd party apps that could tie into these settings as well.
    I agree with other commenters that this should be something fairly simple and straight forward for Apple, and should have long been here already.
    Keep hoping...
  • I really think that Apple needs to work on Siri. Google now is so good on the phone and the watch. When I have a appointment I can pull out my watch and knows when I have to leave. Thanks google now. Tells me everything about my sports team or musicians I like. I am using two phones on and off but I like my iPhone because it just works but man Google now is so good