For all of the new features in iOS 8, arguably the most exciting feature has go to be interactive notifications. In a matter of months, the concept of unlocking your iPhone to reply to a message, like a Facebook post or confirm a calendar event will seem flat out archaic. The concept is hardly anything new, available to jailbreakers using BiteSMS and to some extent, these interactions are available in Android. While innovation often comes from Apple, this particular feature is more of an iteration of what we’ve seen. The good news for iOS users seems to be the method in which Apple has implemented interactive notifications. Here’s how interactive notifications work in iOS 8.

Interactive notifications Messages

Interactive Notifications Within Apps

When you are working in an app and receive a notification alert in iOS 7, a simple swipe up will quickly dismiss the notification. Tapping on it will let you jump to the app where you can act on the alert. While it sounds easy enough, the process is disruptive. In some cases, the action is one that takes a second or two, but the process is much longer. You have to click on the notification, take action on the alert, double-click the home button and get back to work in the previous app.

So how do you use interactive notifications in iOS 8? If you drag down on that same alert, it will reveal action options. For example, in Messages, you can use quick reply. Type a quick message, tap send and boom – you are still in your app.

Which Apps Support Interactive Notifications

Apple has showcased interactive notifications within a number of their stock apps. Suffice to say, if an Apple stock app supports notifications, you can expect this feature will work. During the initial iOS 8 beta period, third part applications are not supported. That being said, support is coming, as shown by the Facebook app. How useful will it be to Like or Comment? When you start to think about your favorite app and how it might work, it’s hard not to imagine how awesome and life-changing interactive notifications will be in iOS 8. Okay, maybe not life-changing, but I’m seriously excited.

Third party notifications

Custom Options Specific To App

Notifications are not a one-size fits all. In Messages, you’ll want a quick reply box. For Calendars, accept or decline an invitation and so on. Below are screenshots that show you what options will be available using apps in iOS 8.

  • Messages: Type a quick reply and send.
  • Calendar: Accept or decline an invitation.
  • Mail: Mark as read, or trash.
  • Reminders: Mark as completed or snooze.
  • Facebook: Comment or Like.

Interactive notifications types

When you expand interactive notifications to third party apps, your options with interactive notifications won’t be near as limited. Maybe your favorite email app might offer a reply option? The options are limitless and developers will be looking to exploit this feature as a way to stand out. Interactive notifications could be their killer feature, depending on how it’s implemented.

Accessing Interactive Notifications From Lockscreen

The improvements to notifications also extend to the lockscreen, where quick actions become imperative to managing alerts. During WWDC, Apple showcased how interactive notifications will work on the lockscreen. By swiping on an alert, those very same options mentioned above, will make themselves available. Here we see how you can accept or decline a calendar invitation. These simple actions will undoubtedly result in greater productivity throughout your day, allowing you to get a good amount of work done, without ever unlocking your iPhone or iPad.

This fall, iOS 8 will dramatically change not only how you use notifications, but how you interact with your iPhone. From within apps, you’ll be able to interact with apps without missing a step, be it work or Flappy Birds. The lock screen will also be a place to get things done. By allowing third-party apps to customize their interactive notifications, it’s going to be incredibly exciting to see how developers build out this functionality, something we’ll see later this fall when iOS 8 is released.