iOS 8 Tip #2: Actionable Notifications

Eight tips! Eight days! This is Day Two, so let’s get down 2 it.

iOS 8 Tip #2: Actionable Notifications

In the olden days (that is, before last Wednesday), if someone texted you, and your iPhone was locked, you’d have to unlock it and go to Messages if you wanted to reply. Similarly, if you were doing something else on the iPhone– maybe reading your mail, maybe buying an app, basically doing anything other than texting– you had to stop doing what you were doing, leave that app, and open up Messages in order to respond.

Not anymore.

In iOS 8, notifications are actionable. That means that after they do their jobs (notifying you), you can take action… right then and there. Basically the notification becomes a little mini-app, on top of the lock screen or on top of the app you were using. Pictures will help explain it.

Here, my friend Bob has sent me a text message while my iPhone is locked.

Message on lockscreen

I could unlock the phone and bring up Messages and write Bob back, just like I used to. In fact, that’s what I started to do here (because I haven’t gotten used to being able to respond to a notification without unlocking the phone). Rather than “try again” on the Touch ID, the proper move is to put my finger on the text message and push it from right to left. You’ll see something like this when you try it:

Message slid to left

A tap on the big blue Reply button brings us this:

Reply to message on lockscreen

I can type my reply, tap Send, and away it goes, all without having to unlock the phone.

It’s even handier when you’re actually doing something when the text comes in, such as using the calculator as shown below.

Message on calculator

All I do is tap Reply and without ever leaving the calculator I can type my reply and send it.

Reply to message on calculator2

I used texting as an example here but there are all sorts of other notifications that pop up on your iPhone’s screen and all of them, in iOS 8, have the possibility of being “actionable” without requiring you to unlock the screen or to leave what you are doing.

It might not look like such a breakthrough feature, but not having to unlock the screen (and not having to leave what you’re doing) saves a whole lot of tapping and a whole lot of time. It’s not like the invention of fire but it does make a difference and small improvements like this add up.

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