PadGadget’s iPad Tips: Customizing Notification Center

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Not everyone is an expert with their iPad. There are a lot of things the device can do that we may not know about. It’s not like Apple’s tablet comes with a user manual either. Plus, things change every time Apple has a major iOS update. We’re talking about hundreds of minor changes that go unnoticed by most of us. Here at PadGadget, we want you to get the most use out of your iPad, so every week, we offer some tips on how to use one of its many feature. Last week, we explained how to download and read books in the iBooks app. This week, we’re going to “alert” you to Apple’s Notification Center feature.

When Apple released iOS 5.0, Notification Center was the big thing. It became more than just a list of apps that will ping you whenever you need to be notified of something. The new feature allows users to customize each app’s notification, turn some on, and turn others off. You can even temporarily silence your notifications while you sleep.

To customize your Notification Center, first go to your Settings app and tap “Notifications.” Here, you will see all apps that offer connectivity to the iPad’s Notification Center. For example, Facetime, Skype, and Twitter all offer compatibility with the alert service. However, some apps, like YouTube and Evernote do not have Notification Center compatibility.

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In this section, you’ll be able to customize each alert you receive from each app, including sounds, alert styles, and when to get alerts or when not to. Incidentally, the iPhone Notification Center includes weather and stock quotes, but those apps are both absent from the iPad.

Tap on an app to get started. Lets start with Facebook. If you haven’t already connected your iPad to your Facebook account, and want to, you can do so from this section. Just slide the toggle switch from off to on and you’ll receive a prompt that will ask your permission to connect your Facebook account to your iPad. Then, you’ll see that you can have your Notification Center show you the past five, 10, or 20 recent items, plus you can change the way you receive your alerts. You can either receive a small banner up top that will go away after a few seconds, or set it to send you an alert that shows up in the middle of your device and requires an action before it will disappear. You can also select “none” if you don’t need a visual alert at all. It will merely show up in your Notification Center list.

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You can select to turn the badge app icon on or off from the next section. The badge app icon is the little red number that appears next to the app to let you know that you’ve received a new message or alert. Personally, I hate those things. I always feel obligated to resolve every single one of them.

You can also toggle the lock screen view on or off for each app. If you turn it on, you will see part of the notification information while your iPad is locked instead of just the alert itself.

In iOS 6, Apple added some social networks sharing features to Notification Center that you may find useful. If you have your Facebook and Twitter accounts connected to your iPad, you can actually tweet and post status updates right from the service.

While still in the Notifications section in your Settings app, make sure your “Share Widget” is turned on. Then, activate Notification Center from any screen.

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To activate the feature, swipe from the top of your screen downward (in any orientation) to see your list of notifications In this same dropdown menu, you’ll see a tap that reads, “Tap to Tweet” and one that reads “Tap to Post.” If you tap on one of those icons, you’ll be able to tweet or post a status update, right from whatever screen you are on. This is perfect for sharing information that doesn’t already include Facebook connectivity.

Now that you’ve got Notification Center all set up and customized, don’t forget to set the Do Not Disturb feature so that you are not kept up all night with Facebook alerts, incoming mail, and Game Center achievements from your friends.

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To set up Do Not Disturb, go back to your Settings app and select Notifications”again. Right at the top, you’ll see the Do Not Disturb tab. Tap it to see how to set up the feature. You can select a start time and end time for silencing your app. I set mine for just before I go to be and let it turn back on right after I wake up each morning. You can also customize whose calls will go through in the middle of the night. If you want to be sure you will always receive calls from your closest friends and family, select “Favorites.” If you want an uninterrupted sleep, but are expecting a call from your sister who is about to go into labor, you can turn on “Repeat Calls,” which enables a second call within three minute to go through. So, that frantic phone call at 3:00 a.m. will make it through the second time.

Now that your Notification Center is set up and customized, you’ll never miss a single new message or status update, or tweet, or what ever you don’t want to miss out on.

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About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik