iOS 12 Push Notifications: Whats Changed and Why its a Good Thing

  • UPDATED: 22 November 2023
  • 6 min read

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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Early this month, Apple unveiled several key enhancements to iOS 12 with push notifications being the centerpiece. The changes are aimed at giving users more control over notifications, reducing clutter, and improve the push messaging experience overall. Most importantly, the changes raise the bar for marketers while engaging users through push notifications in the future. Below, we summarize the changes and see how it affects marketers who send iOS 12 push notifications.

iOS 12 Push Notifications Grouping

iOS 12 Push Notifications Grouping

Simply, the most significant change concerning iOS 12 push notifications. Notifications on the lock screen are now grouped to improve the appearance and reduce clutter. This is good news for marketers, as the older notifications from the app are not pushed below, and users can see notifications from more apps.

Note to marketers:

If you are used to sending too many push notifications, then think again, as the new lock screen only showcases the latest notifications on the lock screen.

Another exciting addition to the notification center is custom grouping, a more granular way for grouping of notifications. Custom grouping bundles the notifications from ‘user groups’ or individuals in messaging apps like WhatsApp, for example,  making it easier for users to recognize and respond to messages.

(Read: Our in-depth guide on push notifications)

Manage Notifications

Managing Push Notifications
Before iOS12, users had to navigate to the settings screen and select the app to access the notification settings. Not anymore. With iOS 12, users can access the notification settings directly from the lock screen notification center.

Users can swipe left on the notification and tap on ‘Manage’ or tap on the ‘View’ button and click on the ellipsis that appears on the top-right corner to configure their notification settings. Users can Turn Off notifications entirely or select ‘Deliver Quietly,’ where the notifications are hidden from the ‘lock screen’ but are delivered directly to the notification center adding a ‘badge’ to the app icon. ‘Deliver Quietly’ does not vibrate or make a sound either.

Note to marketers:

The new implementation could be a cause for concern for marketers as Apple is making it easier for users to do-away with notifications. However, marketers can still find solace in the fact that these notifications are being delivered to the notification center for later viewing.

The key, however, is to stay relevant by using MoEngage features such as segmentation, Do Not Disturb and Frequency Capping. All of the above features help marketers reach ONLY the users the notification is meant for while limiting the conversation to just what’s important.

Provisional Authorization for Notifications

Provisional Authorization for Notifications
This, perhaps, is the most significant change in iOS 12 concerning push notifications. A shift in Apple’s approach to how users opt-in to receive notifications.

Apple has introduced a new implementation where apps can send notifications to the users (without securing an opt-in), albeit these notifications are ‘Delivered Quietly.’ In time, the apps can request users for an opt-in to make a sound and vibrate when a notification is delivered. The request can be made using the older implementation, i.e., via the opt-in pop-up.

Note to marketers:

The change is a cause for celebration. Why? In the earlier versions of iOS, opt-in rates were typically around 60% (less compared to Android), and most users would choose to opt out of receiving notifications upon seeing the ‘pop-up’. This is a massive opportunity for marketers to warm up to users with notifications before making the “big ask.”

SIRI-managed Notifications

SIRI-managed Notifications
SIRI, Apple’s virtual assistant for iOS, is now in charge of managing notifications. SIRI detects when users do not respond to notifications and suggest they turn off notifications from the app. The feature certainly raises the bar for marketers, only to send notifications that are engaging or risk having their app come under SIRI’s radar.

Note to marketers:

Marketers can make use of MoEngage Segmentation – to only reach the users for whom the message is intended, and MoEngage Sherpa – a set of machine learning algorithms that automatically optimize push notification campaigns to ensure maximum user engagement. Higher the engagement, the less the chances of losing the user. It’s that simple!

Bedtime Mode

Avoid notifications via Bedtime Mode
Originally introduced in the iOS 10, Bedtime Mode is a part of Apple’s initiative towards cutting down smartphone addiction. iOS 12’s Bedtime mode dims the light and hides all the notifications till morning. So, marketers need to be careful to not send notifications during odd hours.

Note to marketers:

MoEngage routinely encourages marketers to use the Do-not-Disturb setting to avoid reaching users during odd hours. MoEngage Sherpa machine-learning algorithms also ensure your notifications are delivered to the users, at a time which they(users) are most likely to engage with.

Critical Alerts

push notifications Critical Alerts
A stand-out feature in iOS 12, is the ability for emergency apps to alert users through notifications. It bypasses ‘do not disturb’ and ‘silent mode’ to deliver a notification, play a sound, and vibrate the device. The disruptive feature, however, is not accessible to all the apps.

Enabling the feature requires apps to obtain an entitlement, which can be done by requesting for same in the app developer portal. Grant for the entitlement is entirely up to Apple’s discretion.

Support for User Interaction on Custom Notifications Extensions

User Interaction on Custom Notifications Extensions
The earlier versions of iOS did not allow users to swipe through the contents of the push notification (think carousel notifications with product suggestions, article links, etc.). Users had to use the notification action buttons that appear below the content, affecting the experience. However, with iOS 12 Apple has expanded the functionalities, where users can now tap upon the notification images to browse through multiple contents.

Note to marketers:

The change can be very handy for apps that wish to send multiple product recommendations or links to several items like news articles. The small change in UI can add immense value to both developers and users, and we at MoEngage are planning to introduce rich push notification templates on the Dashboard during the next quarter. Check it out here.

Get the most updated push notification delivery statistics and benchmarks in our recent report. Download the report today!

The Push Notifications Delivery Report


We feel the changes undertaken by Apple in iOS 12 are a move in the right direction as it attempts to refine the push notification experience for users. The changes are certainly aimed at making push notifications more valuable, clutter-free, and more engaging for the customers. More now than ever, marketers need to bear in mind the timing, frequency, and messaging quality of push notifications before hitting the send button.

If you wish to learn more about the MoEngage platform and how we help brands make the most of push notifications, feel free to drop us a message.

Want to know how brands like Bigbasket, Travelz, and Oyo Rooms use MoEngage Push Amplification to improve their push notification delivery rates? Learn more about push amplification here.

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