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Your iOS 10 notifications will be a lot more useful and relevant. And gifs!

At its Worldwide Developer Conference this week, Apple is releasing a bunch of updates to notifications and the way that developers are able to present them to users in iOS 10. They’re about to get so much more powerful, useful and relevant. Let’s talk about some of the stuff that both developers and users should be excited about.

First of all, Apple has streamlined the notifications framework significantly for developers, allowing them to use the same tools to build and send notifications across watchOS, tvOS and iOS. The in-app presentation of notifications now has the same look and feel as system notifications, allowing the full power of the updates to be used both in and outside of apps.

In an enormous upgrade to the notification system, Apple is also now letting developers see pending notifications and to replace old and outdated notifications with new ones that have updated information. This was never possible before, leading to a big stack of outdated messages when you looked at your phone.

For you developers out there, the new notification ID will replace the old one and when you update the old one it pushes it up the stack. It will be interesting to see whether this gets abused for growth hacking, slightly updating the notification to bump it to the top of a user’s notification stream, for instance.
And, of course, notifications can now support intent-based actions in conjunction with the new SiriKit API. Those actions are only supported in the list of categories that Siri supports.

Imagine a sports app, like MLB At Bat, which delivers play-by-play information or scores. When you come back to your phone after being away, instead of a long list of outdated scores and game info, you only get the latest happenings.

There is also now a way for developers to see whether you’ve dismissed a notification — via a new signal built into the notifications framework — allowing them to better gauge how you’re reacting to the stuff you’re sending. This will keep them from pounding you with stuff you’ve not really been interacting with and let them (hopefully) give you things you actually want to take action on.

Notifications now have a “press for more” callout to let you know that you can push on it to get more actionable items.

Currently, a 3D Touch press on a notification to trigger an action does minimize discoverability — and Apple has not at this time disclosed (or decided) how devices without it will handle these new advanced notifications. Perhaps a standard long press.

Notifications now support a few new functions. Photos, audio and videos can be downloaded by an app or directly by a notification and displayed alongside the notification itself. This lets you see images immediately. Expect apps like Instagram and Twitter to play with this for direct messages. And yes, gifs are supported.

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