Handy new app turns Notification Center into messaging machine

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Select a pre-written message and send it straight from Notification Center.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

“I’m leaving” is a message I probably send way too often, but not as often as “I’m here.” It’s just become routine whenever I’m making plans or picking someone up. It’s not necessarily a burden, but it’d be a nice luxury to be able to quickly send friends these repeat messages automatically to save a little bit of time. You’re smart so I bet you know where I’m going with this.

Yes, Written is a new app for iPhone that lets you write out five of your most commonly used phrases and save them for easy access in Notification Center. Then when you pull down the Today view from the top, you see the Written widget with your five messages. Tap one to send it along to your favorite contacts. It works with the Messages app and even WhatsApp.

Here’s how to put your Instagram feed in Notification Center

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Feeday puts Instagram right in your Notification Center.
Feeday puts Instagram right in your Notification Center.
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If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time in Instagram during the day. In fact, if you’re like me, you probably spend so much time in Instagram that you wish it was integrated right into iOS, just a swipe away from no matter where in the operating system you are.

Apple’s never going to get around to baking deep integration to the Facebook-owned Instagram into iOS, but here’s the next best thing: a new app that puts Instagram right in iOS 8’s Notification Center.

How to keep iOS gaming sessions from being interrupted

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Stop getting interrupted when you're gaming. Photo: Rob LeFebvre
Stop getting interrupted when you're gaming. Photo: Rob LeFebvre

I’ve been playing Vainglory quite a bit lately, and the one thing that really distracts me and actually impacts my gameplay (when on my iPad 3) is notifications. They can make the game stutter, which wreaks havok on my ability to gank an enemy Joule from the bushes with my Krul.

Seriously, it’s annoying.

I turned on Do Not Disturb last week to try and get rid of these badges that annoy, but it never worked: I still got notifications from Facebook, Messages and other appss. I did some digging to find out why.

How to enable that sexy new iTunes Notification Center widget

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Quicker than switching to iTunes, for sure. Screengrab: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
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.

Here’s what Apple should do to fix Notification Center

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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.

Trick out your iPhone with Notification Center widgets

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Make the Notification Center your own with widgets. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
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.

You can now play Minesweeper in Notification Center!

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Screenshot: Cult of Mac
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.

This free iOS 8 widget lets you use Notification Center as a notepad

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Photo: Neato
Photo: Neato

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.

This Notification Center widget is like iStats Menu for your iPhone

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Photo: Omnistat

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.

Get iOS 8’s Notification Center on iOS 7 with this slick jailbreak tweak

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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.