Quicker than switching to iTunes, for sure. Screengrab: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
The advent of iTunes 12.1 gave us a sweet new widget that lets you control iTunes from the Notification Center’s Today section, without ever having to switch to the app itself. You can even favorite songs and buy currently playing tracks if you’re listening to iTunes Radio.
Unfortunately, this widget doesn’t seem to appear by default. To enable it, you need to drop into System Preferences. Here’s how to get it up and running.
Notification Center is surprisingly unintuitive for Apple. Photo: Apple
I have very few complaints about iOS 8, and based on casual conversations I’ve had with friends plus the high percentage of users who have upgraded to Apple’s latest mobile OS, I’d suggest the same thing is true across the board.
One part of iOS I use very rarely, however, is Notification Center, which aims to be a one-stop-shop for all the information you need to know, but instead looks like a strangely un-Apple mass of informational overload.
Apparently Stockholm-based MobileCreative designers Petter Andersson, Friðgeir Torfi Ásgeirsson and Jonas Jerlström feel the same way, because they’ve come up with a concept video showing a new possible notification interface for iOS. And you know what? I kind of love it.
Make the Notification Center your own with widgets. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Swipe down from the top of your iPhone (or iPad) screen and you’ll see the new iOS 8 Notification Center. It’s got two sections — Notifications on the right and Today on the left. Tap on the Today button and you’ll see all the new widgets arrayed in their default order.
You can add your calendar, weather, stocks and any one of hundreds of third-party app that has widget support.
The great thing is that you’re not stuck with the default order, or even the default apps — this part of Notification Center is totally customizable. Here’s how to make it your own.
If you want Minesweeper in your Notification Center, better grab it fast. Screenshot: Cult of Mac
Although it’s a Windows game, I’ve never met anyone without a sweet spot for Minesweeper, the addictive little puzzle game that Microsoft debuted in Windows 3.1. Sadly, though, it never came to the Mac.
But if you love a good game of Minesweeper, we’ve got some great news. You can now play it right within Notification Center. Better act on it soon, though: Apple has a tendency to pull interesting iOS 8 widgets like this one.
I love interactive Notification Center widgets. Widgets that let me use Notification Center like a quick entry form for my best used apps. Stuff like PCalc’s calculator widget that gives functionality to users that Apple seems conflicted about.
That’s why I love Neato. It’s a quick jot notepad for Notification Center that lets you speedily enter notes no matter where you are in iOS 8.
On my aging 2009 iMac, one of my favorite apps is iStats Menu, which lets me see at a glance which of the various programs I have running has slowed my desktop down to a crawl. And I have to admit, it’s gotten me a little performance obsessed: I spend a bunch of time every day checking out iStats Menu, just to see if there’s something I can close to maybe drop CPU usage another half-a-percent.
Because of this, I’ve always sort of wished that there was a similar program for iPhones and iPads. And now there is.
iOS 7’s Notification Center is useful, but Apple’s made a number of improvements in iOS 8. For one thing, they dropped the ‘Missed’ tab, which was always next to useless. There’s also support for third-party widgets in Today View, as well as interactive notifications and the ability to individually dismiss notifications that are no longer applicable.
They are all good changes, but unfortunately, you need to wait until September to make use of them… that is, unless you have a jailbroken phone, in which case, a simple tweak is all you need to get an iOS 8-style Notification Center today.
Sure, it’s nice to know you have a bunch of unread email messages. And it’s understandable that iOS apps notify you about every little activity. But after a while, all the little numbers in the red circles on my iPhone’s home screen start to feel like a chore.
I hate having to open up apps just to clear out the taunting little numbers. I could ignore them, but they’re designed to bother me (or, more politely, to get my attention). I mean, I have healthy emotional boundaries, but this is getting ridiculous.
There are quite a few web sites these days that will send you notifications when you visit them via Safari. Sites like NBA.com and the New York Times will drop you a dialog box when you visit them for the first time to ask you if you would like to receive the push notifications.
If you allow them, all hope is not lost should you reconsider your decision. You can drop right into System Preferences and disable them on a site by site basis.
We’re still at least six months away from the debut of iOS 8, but designer Sam Beckett has come along already with a very enticing look at one hot feature that could be in store for all of us: interactive notifications. And boy, do they look rad.