OS X Yosemite Notification Center: Explained

A new Today view and widgets promise even better interactivity in OS X's new Notification Center

With a new look and new functionality, Notification Center is getting a major overhaul in OS X Yosemite. There's an entirely new view mode that gives you today's items at a glance, plus widgets that will extend Notification Center's functionality even further. Let's have a look at some of the changes coming in Yosemite.

All your notifications, all in one place

Notification Center has been a fixture of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch since iOS 5 was released in 2011, providing a unified method for displaying alerts from various applications. In 2012 Apple brought Notification Center to OS X, providing a uniform location for apps to post alerts. Notification Center's actual utility in OS X was very limited.

It wouldn't be until Mavericks debuted in 2013 before Apple revealed plans to enhance Notification Center in OS X. Mavericks Notification Center added interactivity, making it markedly more useful, not only compared to Mountain Lion but even compared to its iOS 7 counterpart.

OS X users gained the ability to actually interact with applications as they notified you. Receive a message in Messages, for example, and you can reply right in the notification. The same with Mail. You can also delete messages. Someone's trying to FaceTime you? Respond back with an iMessage to let them know you can't right now.

With OS X Yosemite, Apple's continuing its track of innovating new features in Notification Center for OS X. They're adding a new Today view, which gives you a calendar at a glance and other helpful features. Notification Center also employs a dark interface that Apple is favoring in some applications, along with the translucency effect that adds some depth to the interface.

Today view

Today view

The Today view is activated when you click the Notification Center button in the menu. It shows your daily calendar at a glance and offers you instant notification of upcoming meetings. Reminders are listed, and social media links let you post instantly to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Messages.

Items in the Today view are interactive. Clicking on any of them yields more information: clicking on an event on your calendar opens up the Calendar app so you can view more details; you can check off Reminders to complete them; clicking on the Weather item yields the entire day's forecast hour by hour.

But there's more to it, as well.


Notification Center widgets

See the Edit button at the bottom of the Today view? You can now customize Notification Center with new features and functionality.

Notification Center supports widgets — micro-applications like a world clock, stock tracking application and calculator. Apple showed off some other ones from third-party developers when Craig Federighi showed off Yosemite at WWDC in June.

The widgets themselves will be available as add-ons from third-party applications you'll be able to download from the Mac App Store, according to Apple.

You'll still be able to control basic Notification Center operations from the Notifications system preference. You can still activate Do Not Disturb, determine what circumstances will keep Notification Center from activating, and adjust the ways that specific apps can notify you from there.

The bottom line

Notification Center in OS X went from a push notification gathering annoyance in Mountain Lion to a truly useful interactive feature in Mavericks. Now Apple's taking the next step in Yosemite by making Notification Center an extensible interface for third-party developers. That, combined with the handy new Today view, make Notification Center even more useful and helpful to your workflow than before.

Have any questions about Notification Center in Yosemite? Already using it as a developer? Tell me what you think in the comments.