How To: Get the Most Out of iOS 11's New Lock Screen-Style Notification Center

Get the Most Out of iOS 11's New Lock Screen-Style Notification Center

Get the Most Out of iOS 11's New Lock Screen-Style Notification Center

One of the first things you'll notice about iOS 11 is how the Notification Center now has the same interface as your lock screen. It's pretty confusing at first, and it's pissed off tons of users, but it's really not that bad once you learn all of its features.

The only real loss of functionality is the fact that you can't easily delete notifications one by one, and instead, you have to 3D Touch or long-press a notification, then tap the "X" next to it. But aside from that, there are actually some interesting new features with the updated interface, so once you've gotten over the initial shock of the lock screen/notification shade hybrid, I show you how it works below.

Accessing Notifications, Today View & the Camera

The first confusing thing you'll likely encounter is how older notifications don't show up right away. But right after you swipe down from the top of your screen, you may notice a little "Earlier today" badge with an up arrow underneath it — this is how you access older notifications.

So swipe down from the top of your screen to open the Notification Center, and yes, it'll look almost exactly like your lock screen. But if you're not seeing some older messages, just swipe up from the middle of your screen to expand this "Earlier today" menu. If you have more recent notifications that are already visible, just scroll to the bottom of the list, then swipe up.

But as you'll notice at the bottom of the screen, there are actually three pages in this menu. To the left, there's the Today view, complete with your favorite widgets and a Spotlight Search bar. And to the right of the notifications, you can actually access your camera to take a quick pic from any screen. Both of these extra pages are just two swipes away at any time — one swipe down, then a swipe to the left or right.

Closing the Notification Center Without Leaving an App

The next major annoyance you might encounter is how hard it is to get out of this new menu. Once you've swiped down to open the Notification Center, you can't just swipe back up from anywhere to close it, as that upward swipe is meant for scrolling through your notifications.

You could do what the message at the bottom of the screen tells you and "Press home to open," but if you opened the Notification Center while using an app, this would kick you back out to the home screen. Instead, there's a better way: Just swipe up from the very bottom edge of your screen and it'll close the Notification Center while leaving you on the same screen you were previously viewing.

Image by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

In fact, this same edge-swipe gesture works on any of the three pages in the new Notification Center. This means that, even if you're scrolling through the Today view or using the quick access camera page, you can still just swipe up from the bottom edge of your screen to go back to what you were previously doing.

Changing the Notification Center Background

Now that we've squared away the main annoyances in this new menu, let's talk about a new feature it brings to the table. Previously, the Notification Center would simply apply a Gaussian blur filter to the screen you were viewing, meaning its looks weren't actually customizable.

But because the Notification Center is reusing the lock screen interface, you can now pick a custom background image for it. To try it out, just head to the Wallpaper menu in your Settings app, then pick an image and hit "Set," and finally, choose "Set Lock Screen."

Once you've done that, your Notification Center will have a new background image regardless of which screen you were viewing when you opened it. It's a simple customization tweak, but it's a welcome change — though note that the image you pick in the above menu will also be applied to your lock screen's background.

Now that you've had a chance to get to know the new Notification Center, have you started to warm up to the revamped interface? Either way, make sure to share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Cover image and screenshots by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

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