Notifications and Badging

Your app can use notifications to provide reminders and highlight important information anytime, whether the device is locked or in use. For example, your app could use notifications to alert the user when it’s time to take medication, remind them to complete an assessment, notify them of a potential problem, or inform them that they have an unread message from their physician.

Notifications are displayed on the device’s lock screen, at the top of the screen while using the device, and in Notification Center, which the user can open by swiping down from the top edge of the screen. If the user has an Apple Watch, notifications are delivered there too.

Notification Attributes

Each notification includes your app name, a small app icon, and a message. Notifications can also be accompanied by a sound, and can cause a badge to appear or update on your app’s icon.

Notification Behavior

For all iOS apps, the behavior of notifications is managed in Settings on an app-by-app basis. For any app that supports notifications, the user can enable or disable the feature entirely. The user can also enable visibility in Notification Center and on the lock screen, enable or disable app icon badging, and choose a notification style.

Banner. Appears at the top of the screen for a few seconds when the device is in use, then disappears.

Alert. Appears at the top of the screen when the device is in use and stays there until manually dismissed.

Users can use a variety of gestures to dismiss notifications or open an expanded detail view. The expanded detail view is customizable and can include up to four buttons for taking action. Your app, for example, might deliver an intervention event reminder notification with a detail view that includes actions for completing the events.

Device Status Gesture Result
Locked Swipe notification to the side Dismisses the notification, removes it from Notification Center, opens the app, and shows related content
Unlocked Tap notification Dismisses the notification, removes it from Notification Center, opens app, and shows related content
Unlocked Swipe notification up/Allow notification to disappear Dismisses the notification (may also remove it from Notification Center)
Locked Apply pressure to notification with 3D Touch Opens an expanded detail view
Unlocked Apply pressure to notification with 3D Touch/Swipe notification down Opens an expanded detail view

Designing a Great Notification Experience

Provide concise, useful, well-written notifications. People enable notifications to get reminders and quick, nonintrusive information updates. Use complete sentences, sentence case, proper punctuation, and don’t truncate your message—the system does this automatically if necessary. Avoid telling people to open your app, navigate to specific screens, tap specific buttons, and perform other tasks that are hard to remember once the notification is dismissed.

Don’t send multiple notifications for the same thing, even if the user hasn't responded. People attend to notifications at their convenience. If you send multiple notifications for the same thing, you fill up Notification Center, and users may turn off notifications from your app.

Minimize notifications. Care plans vary from patient to patient. While one user may have only a few daily tasks to complete, another may have a long list. Use notifications sparingly so the user doesn't begin to feel overwhelmed from too many reminders. If necessary, consider coalescing multiple reminders into a single notification.

Don’t include your app name or icon. The system automatically shows this information at the top of each notification.

Consider providing a detail view. A notification detail view provides more information about a notification, as well as the ability to take immediate action without leaving the current context to open your app. This view should include useful information, be recognizable, and feel like a natural extension of your app. It could contain a list of pending intervention events, for example, and allow the user to quickly mark them complete.

Provide a sound to supplement your notifications. Sound is a great way to get the user’s attention when they’re not looking at the screen. Your app can use a custom sound or a built-in alert sound for this. If you use a custom sound, make sure it’s short, distinctive, and professionally produced. For developer guidance, see Preparing Custom Alert Sounds in Local and Remote Notification Programming Guide. Keep in mind that the user can disable notification alert sounds. They can also enable a vibration that accompanies the sound—this must be manually enabled and can’t be enabled programmatically by your app.

Using Badging

Use badging to supplement notifications. Your app can display a small red oval containing a white number on your app icon to indicate when there are tasks to perform, such as pending intervention events or assessments. Keep in mind that badging of your app can be turned off, so if your app relies on badging to communicate important information, you run the risk of people missing it.

Keep badges up to date. Update your app’s badge as soon as the corresponding actions are performed or information is viewed. You don’t want the user to think there are more actions to perform, for example, only to find that they’ve already completed them. Note that reducing a badge’s count to zero removes all related notifications from Notification Center.

For developer guidance, see Local and Remote Notification Programming Guide.