iOS 12 wish list: VIP for all messages, not just mail

Mail's VIP — short for Very Important Person — feature is great. It lets you "star" the people most important to you, then enable sound, vibration, and Lock screen notifications just and only for them. It's a terrific way to make sure you're alerted when you get email that matters, and avoid being interrupted when it doesn't. It's so good it shouldn't be limited to the Mail app — it should be system-level and available to Messages — even Twitter and Instagram.

Since Apple's about to start work on iOS 12, here's my pitch for getting universal VIP onto the feature list!

VIP, yeah you get through to me

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.

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 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.

Apple just introduced CallKit for iOS 10, so VoIP apps could better integrate with the Lock and phone screens. Having a VIPKit would be great so apps could fully integrate with the contact settings as well. That way, Twitter, Messenger, Snapchat, and the like could be first-class VIP apps as well.

VIP could also fold in Phone Favorites, which is 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 11.

What's on your wish list?

What would you love to see Apple do with notifications in iOS 12? Let me know!

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!

Updated September 29, 2017 for iOS 12.

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.

  • Agreed. I would also like to see the ability to allow VIPs to "override" do not disturb mode. I know you can do this with phone calls, but it would be nice if you could do it with more than that.
  • Yes, I would love this as well. I have DND mode set to come on at 11pm but still want to be able to receive texts from my girlfriend and family in case of an emergency.
  • It does do that. All my VIPs in my contact list can notify me when “Do Not Disturb” is on.
  • I still hate the fact that the icons still snap to grid. For example, just have my favs at the bottom (above the Dock). And my wallpaper could have a image that only on the top half.
  • Trash all emails option !!!!!!! Sent from the iMore App
  • Does setting a contact to "Emergency Bypass: On" via their contact card allow their calls and messages to break through the DND, or does that still only permit phone calls to break DND? Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't know if it would require updated hardware or just software but I'd love to see Apple Pencil support on the iPhone. I'm a college student and I try to be paperless but typing calculus equations is a pain would love to be able to write them.
  • This is a very good idea. I use Apple Mail primarily due to VIP and notifications. Adding VIP to messages would be very helpful. Adding as an option for all apps, with choice to use it of course, would be brilliant.
  • The "Emergency Bypass" per contact feature sort of works this way. It's designed to let those contacts bypass do not disturb mode, but it seems to work in other ways as well. For example, iMessages on the Apple Watch still "ding" from "emergency bypass" contacts even when I've set it to silent mode, but not for normal contacts.
  • Bring trash all back to email!!!!!
  • You have been effectively able to do this ever since you could set custom ringtones and text tones. Set the default ringtone/text tone to a silent tone and then set your VIP contacts to something else. Instant quiet phone. A.
  • iMessages CAN go through if they are VIPs when “Do Not Disturb “ is on.
  • please apple change the F@#$ clock on the lock screen. way overdue for a change.
    notification center what a mess
  • What do you want changing?
  • I agreed with all you said René, but I would die for multiple VIP lists!
    VIP1=My friend
    VIP2=Urgent notifications from monitored systems (servers, network, ...)
    and so on and so on
    I've been hoping for this since the 4S...